11 Paintings, Olympian deities, by the Old Masters, with footnotes #8

Sandro Botticelli, 1445 – 1510, and workshop

Venus, c. 1484-1490

Tempera on canvas

Galleria Sabauda, Turin

One of only two extant versions of Venus that Botticelli painted after his famed Birth of Venus (1486) (below), which hangs at the Uffizi, the painting features the sole figure of Venus against a simple black background, striking her familiar contrapposto pose, her expression languid and serene, with long hair plaited and flowing. Botticelli’s Birth of Venus was executed at the pinnacle of his career, thought to have been commissioned by the Medici family as a wedding gift. At the time, his paintings of mythological, nude subjects were in high demand. Later in life, however, gripped by religious fervor, he would denounce such “pagan” works, and may have destroyed many of his own paintings. More Venus

Sandro Botticelli, 1445 – 1510

The Birth of Venus, c. 1485-86

Tempera on canvas

172.5 x 278.5 cm

Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence 

Minerva/ Pallas Athene and the Centaur, below, was painted for the villa of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici at Castello. 

The Birth of Venus. In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and fertility. She was the Roman counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite. However, Roman Venus had many abilities beyond the Greek Aphrodite; she was a goddess of victory, fertility, and even prostitution. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Aphrodite was born of the foam from the sea after Saturn (Greek Cronus) castrated his father Uranus (Ouranus) and his blood fell to the sea. This latter explanation appears to be more a popular theory due to the countless artworks depicting Venus rising from the sea in a clam. More The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus was a theme launched by Lorenzo the Great, and it was he who had it set to verse by one of his favorite humanist poets, Angelo Poliziano. This filtered through to Botticelli and he scrupulously followed the text in order to design the artwork.

Angelo Poliziano’s stanzas were based on an ode by Hesiod. In the story we see the aftermath of Venus’s creation, pushed along by the Gods of the winds, on the first day of Creation, elevated this shell bearing Venus’ triumphant nudity from the unknown depths of the sea. Approaching the earth over which she will assume her true role, she becomes suddenly modest, and notice the stance, which Bouguereau borrowed directly from the beautiful examples of the antique, Venus Pudicae, that were being discovered at that time. More Angelo Poliziano’s stanzas

Sandro Botticelli, 1445 – 1510

Minerva/Pallas Athene and the Centaur, c. 1482

Tempera on canvas

205 × 147.5 cm (80.7 × 58.1 in)

Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence

The point of this painting  is to show the dominance of female virtue over the worthless, lustful, animalistic emotions.  Minerva is wearing a dress covered olive branches, one of her symbols and another of female virtue, and carrying a halberd that also represents virtue. The dress itself has diamonds sown on to again represent virtue and in a pattern of three to represent the Medici.  They were supporting Botticelli and all of Florence at the time.  The centaur is a symbol of animalistic tendencies in humanity, the bestiality possible in everyday life. More Pallas and the Centaur

Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, known as Sandro Botticelli (1445 –1510), was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance. He belonged to the Florentine School under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici, a movement that Giorgio Vasari would characterize less than a hundred years later in his Vita of Botticelli as a “golden age”. Botticelli’s posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then, his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting.

Botticelli was born in the city of Florence. He was initially trained as a goldsmith by his brother Antonio. There are very few details of Botticelli’s life, but it is known that he became an apprentice when he was about fourteen years old, which would indicate that he received a fuller education than other Renaissance artists. By 1462 he was apprenticed to Fra Filippo Lippi; many of his early works have been attributed to the elder master, and attributions continue to be uncertain. Influenced also by the monumentality of Masaccio’s painting, it was from Lippi that Botticelli learned a more intimate and detailed manner.

By 1470, Botticelli had his own workshop. Even at this early date, his work was characterized by a conception of the figure as if seen in low relief, drawn with clear contours, and minimizing strong contrasts of light and shadow which would indicate fully modelled forms.

In his works, the influence of Gothic realism is tempered by Botticelli’s study of the antique. But if the painterly means may be understood, the subjects themselves remain fascinating for their ambiguity. The complex meanings of his paintings continue to receive widespread scholarly attention, mainly focusing on the poetry and philosophy of humanists who were the artist’s contemporaries.

In the mid-1480s, Botticelli worked on a major fresco cycle with Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Filippino Lippi, for Lorenzo the Magnificent’s villa near Volterra; in addition he painted many frescoes in Florentine churches. In 1491 he served on a committee to decide upon a façade for the Cathedral of Florence.

Botticelli never wed, and expressed a strong disliking to the idea of marriage, a prospect he claimed gave him nightmares. More

Ferdinand Keller, (German, 1842-1922)

Selene thrown down by Argus, c. 1886

Oil on canvas

30 x 43 1/2in (76 x 110.5cm)

Private Collection

Several of Ferdinand Keller’s paintings have been used as illustrations for Georg Eberst’s novels, with the present lot illustrated in The Emperor. More on The Emperor

Ferdinand Keller, (German, 1842-1922)

Selene thrown down by Argus, c. 1886

Detail

Ferdinand Keller, or von Keller (5 August 1842 – 8 July 1922) was a German genre and history painter. In 1857, when he was fifteen, his father was awarded a contract to design bridges, roads and dams in Brazil. Ferdinand and his brother Franz were able to accompany him. Over the course of a four-year stay, he was able to teach himself drawing by sketching the tropical landscape. Shortly after their return, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts, Karlsruhe.

He was unsatisfied with the Academy, however, and took private lessons at the studio of Hans Canon. This was followed, in 1866 and 1867, by study trips to Switzerland and France. He achieved his first recognition with his painting “The Death of Philip II” at the International Exposition. From 1867 to 1869, he lived in Rome, where he made the acquaintance of Anselm Feuerbach and maintained a joint studio with him.[2]

In 1870, he became a teacher of portrait and history painting at the Karlsruhe Academy and was appointed a Professor in 1873. From 1880 to 1913, he served as Director.

In addition to his regular paintings, he provided decorations and curtains for the new Karlsruhe Court Theater and the Dresden Semperoper. His decorations for the King Carl Hall at the Landesmuseum Württemberg pleased the King so much that he awarded Keller a title of nobility. Frederick I, Grand Duke of Baden, commissioned him to paint the History of Baden for the National Art Gallery. On a smaller scale, his etchings have been used to illustrate numerous books.

He died in 1922 in Baden-Baden. A street in Karlsruhe was named after him in 1964. More Ferdinand Keller

John William Godward, R.B.A., 1861-1922

ISMENIA, c. 1908

Oil on canvas

32 by 26 in., 81.2 by 66 cm

Private Collection

Ismene  is the name of the daughter and half-sister of Oedipus, daughter and granddaughter of Jocasta, and sister of Antigone, Eteocles, and Polynices. She appears in several plays of Sophocles: at the end of Oedipus the King, in Oedipus at Colonus and in Antigone. She also appears at the end of Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes.

When Oedipus stepped down as King of Thebes, he gave the kingdom to Eteocles and Polynices, who both agreed to alternate the throne every year. However, after the first year, Eteocles refused to step down and Polynices attacked Thebes with his supporters. Both brothers died in the battle. King Creon, who ascended to the throne of Thebes, decreed that Polynices was not to be buried, but left to rot on pain of death.

However, Antigone defied the order and was caught. In the opening scene of the play when Antigone is about to perform the burial rituals on Polynices, Ismene serves as the compassionate but rational and prudent counterpart to Antigone’s headstrong style of decision-making with no regard for consequence. While Antigone resolves to honor her brother at all costs, Ismene laments that while she too loves her brother, her disposition does not allow her to defy the state and become an outlaw. Once Antigone was caught, in spite of her betrothal to his son Haemon, Creon decreed that she was to be buried alive. Ismene then declared she had aided Antigone and wanted the same fate, though she did not participate in the crime. Antigone refused to let her be martyred for a cause she did not stand up for. She even seems to forget her sister exists, calling herself the ‘last unhappy daughter of a line of kings. More Ismene

John William Godward (9 August 1861 – 13 December 1922) was an English painter from the end of the Neo-Classicist era. He was a protégé of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, but his style of painting fell out of favour with the arrival of painters such as Picasso. He committed suicide at the age of 61 and is said to have written in his suicide note that “the world is not big enough for myself and a Picasso”.

His already estranged family, who had disapproved of his becoming an artist, were ashamed of his suicide and burned his papers. No photographs of Godward are known to survive. More

Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640)

Tereus Confronted with the Head of his Son Itylus, c. 1636-38

Oil on panel

195 × 267 cm (76.8 × 105.1 in)

Prado Museum

Tereus was a Thracian king, the son of Ares and husband of Procne. Procne and Tereus had a son, Itys.

Tereus desired his wife’s sister, Philomela. He forced himself upon her, then cut her tongue out and held her captive so she could never tell anyone. He told his wife that her sister had died. Philomela wove letters in a tapestry depicting Tereus’s crime and sent it secretly to Procne. In revenge, Procne killed Itys and served his flesh in a meal to his father Tereus. When Tereus learned what she had done, he tried to kill the sisters but all three were changed by the Olympian Gods into birds: Tereus became a hoopoe; Procne became the nightingale whose song is a song of mourning for the loss of her child; Philomela became the swallow, which has no song. More

 

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.

In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England. More

Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem and Roelandt Savery Haarlem 1562 – 1638 Kortrijk 1576 – 1639 Utrecht

VENUS AND ADONIS RESTING IN AN EXTENSIVE LANDSCAPE, WITH CUPID AND HUNTING DOGS AND THEIR QUARRIES

Oil on oak panel

74 x 101.8 cm.; 29 1/8  x 40 1/8  in.

Private Collection

Collaborative works were not uncommon in early seventeenth-century Netherlandish art and some artists were regular partners, but a work such as this, where one major artist has, some eight years later, taken the work of another major artist and extended it, is exceptional. The result is poetic, with the lithe, smoothly painted figures of Venus and Adonis reclining in a landscape busy with all the naturalistic detail we expect in Savery’s best works. More

Venus and Adonis is a narrative poem by William Shakespeare published in 1593, the same year that Christopher Marlowe published Hero and Leander and Thomas Nashe published The Choice of Valentines, all three classic erotic poems. It is probably Shakespeare’s first publication.

The poem tells the story of Venus, who is Goddess of Love, and her attempted seduction of Adonis, an extremely handsome young man, who would rather go hunting. The poem is dramatic, pastoral, and at times erotic, comic, tragic, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral. It contains discourses on the nature of love, and many brilliantly described observations of nature. More Venus and Adonis

Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem, (1562 – 11 November 1638), Dutch Golden Age painter and draughtsman, was one of the leading Northern Mannerist artists in the Netherlands, and an important forerunner of Frans Hals as a portraitist. He is known among art historians as a member of the Haarlem Mannerists. He painted mainly portraits as well as mythological and Biblical subjects. Initially Cornelis Cornelisz painted large-size, highly stylized works with Italianate nudes in twisted poses with a grotesque, unnatural anatomy. Later, his style changed to one based on the Netherlandish realist tradition.

When his parents fled Haarlem in 1568, as the Spanish army laid siege to the city during the Eighty Years’ War, Cornelis Cornelisz remained behind and was raised by the painter Pieter Pietersz the Elder. Later, in 1580-1581 Corneliszoon studied in Rouen, France, and Antwerp, before returning to Haarlem, where he stayed the rest of his life. In 1583 he received his first official commission from the city of Haarlem, a militia company portrait, the Banquet of the Haarlem Civic Guard. He later became city painter of Haarlem and received numerous official commissions. As a portrait painter, both of groups and individuals, he was an important influence on Frans Hals. More Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem

Cornelis van Haarlem, (1562–1638)

Venus and Adonis, c. 1614

Oil on canvas

Height: 95 cm (37.4 in). Width: 74.2 cm (29.2 in).

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen, France

Roelant Savery (1576 – buried 25 February 1639), was a Flanders-born Dutch Golden Age painter. As a child, Roelandt Savery moved to Haarlem from the southern Netherlands. For much of his career Savery traveled widely, working for Rudolf II in Prague and then Emperor Matthias, before settling in Utrecht in 1619. 


The nearly ten years Savery worked for Rudolf II, beginning about 1603, were decisive. He traveled in Prague, Bohemia, and to the Tyrol, where he drew mountain scenery. These drawings provided source material for the rest of his career. While Savery’s paintings recall Jan Brueghel the Elder’s works, Savery’s style is more archaic. He also incorporated the exotic animals that he studied closely in Rudolf II’s menagerie.


Savery’s works played important roles in the development of several genres: floral still lifes, paintings of cows and other animals, cityscapes, and landscapes. His mountain scenes with precipitous rocks and waterfalls influenced Dutch landscape painters such as Allart van Everdingen, Herman Saftleven the Younger, and Jacob van Ruisdael. According to biographer Arnold Houbracken, Savery died insane. More Roelant Savery

Peter Paul Rubens, (1577–1640)

The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus, circa 1617

Oil on canvas

224 × 211 cm (88.2 × 83.1 in)

Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany

The painting depicts the mortal Castor and the immortal Pollux abducting Phoebe and Hilaeira, daughters of Leucippus. Castor the horse-tamer is recognisable from his armour, whilst Pollux the boxer is shown with a bare and free upper body. They are also distinguished by their horses – Castor’s is well-behaved and supported by a putto, whereas Pollux’s is rearing. The putto’s black wing shows the twins’ ultimate fate. Phoebe and Hilaeira do not have distinguishing attributes and so which sister is which is unclear.

In Greek and Roman mythology, Castor and Pollux, or Kastor and Polydeuces, were twin brothers. Their mother was Leda, but they had different fathers; Castor was the mortal son of Tyndareus, the king of Sparta, while Pollux was the divine son of Zeus. Though accounts of their birth are varied, they are sometimes said to have been born from an egg, along with their twin sisters or half-sisters Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra.

Castor and Polydeuces abducted and married Phoebe and Hilaera, the daughters of Leucippus. In return, Idas and Lynceus, nephews of Leucippus and rival suitors, killed Castor. Polydeuces was granted immortality by Zeus, and further persuaded Zeus to share his gift with Castor. More Castor and Polydeuces

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) see above

Pieter Jacobsz. Codde, AMSTERDAM 1599 – 1678

THE JUDGEMENT OF MIDAS IN THE CONTEST BETWEEN APOLLO AND PAN

Oil on oak panel

56.2 x 87.8 cm.; 22 1/8  x 34 1/2  in.

Private Collection

This scene is taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses XI: 146–93. The mountain god Tmolus, seated in the centre, judged the musical contest between Apollo and Pan in Apollo’s favour but King Midas, at right, proclaimed that Pan should have won. Here, Codde depicts the very moment of Apollo’s vengeance, as he looks indignantly towards Midas, whose ears have already turned into those of an ass. More the musical contest between Apollo and Pan in Apollo

Pieter Jacobsz. Codde (December 11, 1599 – October 12, 1678) was a Dutch painter of genre works, guardroom scenes and portraits. He was a technically skilled painter. In 1623 he married the 18-year-old Marritje Arents. By 1628 Codde was living in the Sint Antoniesbreestraat, then a fashionable street in Amsterdam with many painters.

His earliest known work is a piece from 1626, Portrait of a Young Man, now in the Ashmolean. Most of his best-remembered works were executed in Amsterdam and are small-scale paintings. They are distinctive in their silvery-gray tonalities, and many are musically themed, such as his first known genre work, Dancing Lesson (Louvre) from 1627, Musical Company of 1639, The Lute Player (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and, Concert, a piece now in the Uffizi Gallery. The other piece by Codde in the Uffizi is a genre work, Conversation. Codde also painted historical religious works, such as his Adoration of the Shepherds, from 1645, in the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam.

In 1636 the couple divorced after he was accused of raping the maid; because nothing could be proved he was only locked up for one night. His wife went to live with Pieter Potter, their neighbor and the father of the painter Paulus Potter. In 1657 he purchased a house on the Keizersgracht for 5,000 guilders, where he lived until he died. When Pieter Codde died his maid, Barendje Willems, inherited most of his property. More Pieter Jacobsz. Codde

Acknowledgement: Sotheby’sBonhams

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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