Jan Miel, BEVEREN-WAES NEAR ANTWERP 1599 – 1664 TURIN
CERES, BACCHUS AND VENUS, c. 1645
Oil on canvas
142.5 x 162.7 cm.; 56 1/8 x 64 1/8 in.
The theme of Sine Cerere et Baccho Friget Venus – literally, ‘without Ceres or Bacchus, Venus would freeze’ – is derived from a line in Act IV of The Eunuch, a Roman farce by a Roman dramatist Terence and explained by the 16th-century humanist Erasmus, this image illustrates the idea that food and drink, the gifts of Ceres and Bacchus, nourish desire, as embodied by Venus. Jan Miel united the three gods with reverberating reflections across the image. More on this image.
Jan Miel (1599 in Beveren-Waas – 1663 in Turin) was a Flemish painter and engraver who was active in Italy. He initially formed part of the circle of Dutch and Flemish genre painters in Rome who are referred to as the ‘Bamboccianti’ and were known for their scenes depicting the lower classes in Rome. He later developed away from the Bamboccianti style and painted history subjects in a classicising style.
In 1648 in Rome, Miel became the first northern artist to be admitted to the Accademia di San Luca, a prestigious association of leading artists in Rome. A stay of Miel in Northern Italy of around 1654 is documented. From 1658 until his death he resided in Turin, where he was appointed court painter of Charles Emanuel II, the Duke of Savoy. More on Jan Miel
Isaac Moillon, PARIS 1614 – 1673
THE RAPE OF HELEN
Oil on canvas
141,5 x 109 cm ; 55 3/4 by 43 in
With its dramatic obscurity, curious full moon lighting, and a sea wind that ruffles and undresses the figures, this painting by Isaac Moillon seems to be connected with the series of mural hangings correlating to the lovers, Paris and Helen. Moillon was famous during the first half of the 17th century for his great decoration workshops, it was mainly his output intended for the Aubusson manufacturer that distinguished him. More on this painting
Paris, a Trojan prince, came to Sparta to claim Helen. Before this journey, Paris had been appointed by Zeus to judge the most beautiful goddess; Hera, Athena, or Aphrodite. In order to earn his favour, Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in the world. Swayed by Aphrodite’s offer, Paris chose her as the most beautiful of the goddesses, earning the wrath of Athena and Hera.
Although Helen is sometimes depicted as being raped by Paris, Ancient Greek sources are often contradictory. Herodotus states that Helen was abducted, but the Cypria simply mentions that, after giving Helen gifts, “Aphrodite brings the Spartan queen together with the Prince of Troy.” Sappho argues that Helen willingly left behind Menelaus and their nine-year-old daughter, Hermione, to be with Paris. More on the rape of Helen
Isaac Moillon, (1614-1673), was one of the Louis XIV’s painters – ‘Peintre du roi’- and produced a number of cartoons for the tapestry industry in Aubusson, which was under Royal patronage. They included the suite of tapestries of a series of more than eight tapestries telling the Story of Paris and Helen, executed before 1654. Several of these suites still exist and are conserved in the Swedish Royal collection, the Hospices de Beaune in France, the chateaux of Barbentane and of Villemonteix and in the museum of Aubusson. More on Isaac Millon
Hendrik Goltzius, (1558–1617)
Vertumnus and Pomona, c. 1613
Oil on canvas
Height: 90 cm (35.4 in). Width: 149.5 cm (58.9 in).
Pomona, the beautiful wood nymph cared nothing for the woods but cared only for her fruit filled gardens and orchards. Pomona fenced her garden so the rude young men couldn’t trample her plants and vines. She kept her orchards closed because she wanted to rid of the men who were attracted to her good looks. Even dancing satyrs were attracted to her. Vertumnus, the young, handsome god of changing seasons and patron of fruits, decided to try to win over Pomona. He came to her in various disguises, which included, a reaper, an apple picker, a fisher, a solider, and more. Even with the disguises, she still never paid him the slightest bit of attention. One day Vertumnus tried a disguise as an old women. Pomona allowed him to enter her garden and he pretended to be interested in her fruit. He told her he was more exquisite than her crops. After saying that, he kissed her. Vertumnus kept trying to sway her by telling her a story of a young women who rejected a boy who loved her; in despair, the boy killed hung himself, and Venus punished the girl by turning her to stone. It didn’t work, of course. He then realized the disguise didn’t work and tore it off. To his surprise, she fell in love with his beauty and they worked in her garden together. More on Vertumnus and Pomona
Hendrick Goltzius ( January or February 1558 – 1 January 1617), was a German-born Dutch printmaker, draftsman, and painter. He was the leading Dutch engraver of the early Baroque period, or Northern Mannerism, noted for his sophisticated technique and the “exuberance” of his compositions. According to A. Hyatt Mayor, Goltzius “was the last professional engraver who drew with the authority of a good painter and the last who invented many pictures for others to copy”. In middle age he also began to produce paintings. More on Hendrick Goltzius
Herbert James Draper, 1863-1920
THE GATES OF DAWN
Oil on canvas
51 by 29cm., 20 by 12in
The Gates of Dawn depicts the Roman goddess Aurora, the personification of the dawn.
In Roman mythology, Aurora renews herself every morning and flies across the sky, announcing the arrival of the sun. She has two siblings, a brother (Sol, the sun) and a sister (Luna, the moon).
Aurora appears most often in sexual poetry with one of her mortal lovers. A myth taken from the Greek by Roman poets tells that one of her lovers was the prince of Troy, Tithonus. Tithonus was a mortal, and would therefore age and die. Wanting to be with her lover for all eternity, Aurora asked Jupiter to grant immortality to Tithonus. Jupiter granted her wish, but she failed to ask for eternal youth to accompany his immortality, and he became forever old. Aurora turned him into a cicada. More on Aurora
Herbert James Draper (1863 – 1920) was an English Classicist painter whose career began in the Victorian era and extended through the first two decades of the 20th century. Born in London, the son of a jeweller, he was educated at Bruce Castle School in Tottenham and then went on to study art at the Royal Academy. He undertook several educational trips to Rome and Paris between 1888 and 1892, having won the Royal Academy Gold Medal and Travelling Studentship in 1889. In the 1890s, he worked as an illustrator, eventually settling in London. He died of arteriosclerosis at the age of 56, in his home on Abbey Road. More on Herbert James Draper
George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A., 1817-1904
Orpheus and Eurydice
Oil on canvas
56 by 76cm., 22 by 30in.
When the wood-nymph Eurydice was fatally bitten by a snake, her husband Orpheus, son of the Sun-god Apollo and the Muse Calliope, refused to accept her death and journeyed from his home in Thrace to the Underworld to regain her. After charming the deities Pluto and Proserpine with his beautiful music which had the power to tame wild beasts, Orpheus was permitted to lead Eurydice through the shadows back to the Earth. He was warned that he must not look back at her until they were in the daylight again. At the moment that they were about to emerge from Hades, Orpheus was consumed with temptation to see his wife and turned to see her disappear back into the darkness, losing her again and forever. This moment depicted in Watts dramatic painting. More on Orpheus and Eurydice
George Frederic Watts OM RA (London 23 February 1817 – 1 July 1904) was a popular English Victorian painter and sculptor associated with the Symbolist movement. He said “I paint ideas, not things.” Watts became famous in his lifetime for his allegorical works, such as Hope and Love and Life. These paintings were intended to form part of an epic symbolic cycle called the “House of Life”, in which the emotions and aspirations of life would all be represented in a universal symbolic language. More on George Frederic Watts
Francesco Melzi, (circa 1491 – 1568/70)
Flora, Between 1510 and 1515
Oil on canvas
State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Melzi was Leonardo da Vinci’s favourite pupil who followed the master to France, remaining with him to the end of his life. Melzi’s paintings are rarely found in the world museums. In style the Flora recalls the works of Leonardo, with the same soft sfumato used to model forms, the same elegant restraint to the colour, that soft half-smile on the lips of the sitter.
In Classical mythology Flora was the wife of Zephyr, the west wind of springtime, and mother of all the plants. It is she who feeds and brings life, and thus is shown with naked breasts. The stones of the mysterious grotto in which Flora is placed are covered with various grasses and flowers. With a gracious turn of the head she is looking at a columbine or aquilegia, symbol of fertility. More on this painting
In Roman mythology, Flora was a Sabine-derived goddess of flowers and of the season of spring – a symbol for nature and flowers (especially the may-flower). While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime, as did her role as goddess of youth. Her Greek counterpart was Chloris. More Flora
Francesco Melzi, or Francesco de Melzi, (circa 1491 – 1568/70) was a son of an aristocrat that met Leonardo when he was 15 and stayed with him almost his entire life. From 1506-1517 he also Inherited much of Leonardo’s estate and works.
Melzi became Leonardo’s pupil and life companion, and is considered to have been his favorite student. He accompanied Leonardo on trips to Rome in 1513 and to France in 1517. As a painter, Melzi worked closely with and for Leonardo. Some works which, during the nineteenth century, were attributed to Leonardo are today ascribed to Melzi.
Upon Leonardo’s death, Melzi inherited the artistic and scientific works, manuscripts, and collections of Leonardo, and would henceforth faithfully administer the estate.
Returning to Italy, Melzi married, and fathered a son, Orazio. When Orazio died on his estate in Vaprio d’Adda, his heirs sold the collection of Leonardo’s works.” More on Francesco Melzi,
Thomas Matthews Rooke, 1842-1942
In Greek mythology, Taygete was described as the daughter of Atlas and Pleione, one of the Pleiades (one of their seven daughters, mountain nymphs) and Pleioneand a companion of Artemis. Mt Taygetos in Laconia derived its name from her.
Zeus was attracted towards Taygete’s beauty and would take advantage of her when she was unconscious. Taygete was so ashamed when she recovered that she hid herself under Mount Taygetos, in Laconia. In due course she gave birth to Lacedaemon, founder of Sparta. According to other versions, in order to secure Taygete against Zeus lustful advance, Artemis transformed her into a doe. When she was restored to her original form, she showed her gratitude towards Artemis by dedicating to her the Cerynitian hind with golden horns. (The golden horns that Hercules had to fetch in his 3rd labor.) More on Taygete
Thomas Matthews Rooke (1842–1942) is best known as Burne-Jones’ studio assistant who worked for ‘the master’ for almost thirty years, and made an invaluable record of Burne-Jones’s conversations in the last years of his life. He was also an interesting painter in his own right, producing imaginative and religious subjects in oils together with watercolours, mostly of old buildings.
He received his artistic education at the South Kensington and the Royal Academy Schools and in 1869 applied to work for Morris and Company. He was deputed to Burne-Jones’ studio where he remained until the end of Burne-Jones’ life. His own religious subjects had some success, for instance The Story of Ruth was bought for the Chantrey Bequest in 1877 (Tate Gallery). In 1878 Burne-Jones recommended him to Ruskin who was looking for artists to record old buildings threatened with demolition or restoration. Until 1893, Rooke spent half his time working for Ruskin; these watercolours are now in the Ruskin Museum, Sheffield. He produced a further series for the Society for the Preservation of Pictorial Records of Ancient Works of Art. These are in the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery.
Rooke had a gentle unassuming personality; Burne-Jones wrote of him to Ruskin: “Also there is a very high place in Heaven waiting for him and He Doesn’t Know It.” He died in his hundredth year in his home in the “aesthetic” suburb of Bedford Park. More on Thomas Matthews Rooke
François Perrier, PONTARLIER 1594 – 1649 PARIS
JUPITER AND SEMELE
Oil on canvas
160 x 96 cm ; 63 by 37 3/4 in
This feverish subject, drawn from Jupiter’s many lovers, evidently offers Perrier a new pretext for dedicating himself to the representation of opposed anatomies, masculine and feminine, linked in a wide and sensual embrace. He expresses in this painting a rather obvious example of his lively and energetic skill with the use of a restricted and homogenous chromatic range, quite characteristic of his great works realized between 1635 and his second Roman stay. More on this painting
François Perrier (1590–1650) was a French painter, draftsman, and printmaker. Perrier was instrumental in introducing into France the grand style of the decorative painters of the Roman Baroque.
During the years 1620–1625, he resided in Rome, where he took as his model the practitioner of academic Baroque classicism, Giovanni Lanfranco. when he was employed on the fresco decoration of the dome of S Andrea della Valle, one of the earliest examples of Roman Baroque ceiling decoration.
On his return to France, following a brief stay in Lyon he settled in Paris in 1630. Here he worked in the classsicising circle of Simon Vouet. In 1632–1634.
Perrier returned to Rome in 1635, remaining there for the next decade. During this period he created decorations for palazzo Peretti and saw to the publication in Paris of his great repertory of images. In 1645, once again in Paris he painted the ceiling of the gallery of the Hôtel de La Vrillière, now the seat of the Banque de France, and worked with Eustache Le Sueur on the cabinet de l’amour in the Hôtel Lambert. In 1648, he was one of the twelve founders of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. He died in Paris. More on François Perrier
Paul Delvaux, 1897-1994
Les Nymphes se Baignant/ Nymphs Bathing, c. 1938
150 x 130 cm
A nymph in Greek and Latin mythology is a minor female nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from other goddesses, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing; their amorous freedom sets them apart from the restricted and chaste wives and daughters of the Greek polis. They are beloved by many and dwell in mountainous regions and forests by lakes and streams. Although they would never die of old age nor illness, and could give birth to fully immortal children if mated to a god, they themselves were not necessarily immortal, and could be beholden to death in various forms. More on nymphs
Paul Delvaux (23 September 1897 – 20 July 1994) was a Belgian painter famous for his paintings of female nudes. He was influenced by the works of Giorgio de Chirico, and was also briefly associated with surrealism.
The young Delvaux took music lessons, studied Greek and Latin, and absorbed the fiction of Jules Verne and the poetry of Homer. All of his work was to be influenced by these readings, starting with his earliest drawings showing mythological scenes. He studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, attending painting classes taught by Constant Montald and Jean Delville. The painters Frans Courtens and Alfred Bastien also encouraged Delvaux, whose works from this period were primarily naturalistic landscapes.
Delvaux’s paintings of the late 1920s and early 1930s, which feature nudes in landscapes. A change of style around 1933 reflects the influence of the metaphysical art. In the early 1930s Delvaux found further inspiration in visits to the Brussels Fair, where the Spitzner Museum, a museum of medical curiosities, supplying him with motifs that would appear throughout his subsequent work.
In 1959 he executed a mural at the Palais des Congrès in Brussels, one of several large scale decorative commissions Delvaux undertook. He was named director of the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in 1965. In 1982 the Paul Delvaux Museum opened in Saint-Idesbald. Delvaux died in Veurne in 1994. More on Paul Delvaux
Nicolas Bertin, PARIS 1667/68 – 1736
THE DANAIDS IN HELL
Oil on panel
18 by 23 1/4 in.; 45.5 by 59 cm.
In Greek mythology, Tartarus (hell) is the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans. Tartarus is the place where, according to Plato, souls were judged after death and where the wicked received divine punishment.
The fifty daughters of Danaus were to marry the fifty sons of Danaus’s twin brother Aegyptus, a mythical king of Egypt. In the most common version of the myth, all but one of them killed their husbands on their wedding night, and were punished in Tartarus by being forced to carry water in a jug to fill a bath which would thereby wash off their sins. But the tub was filled with cracks, so the water always leaked out. More on the Danaids
Nicolas Bertin (1667, Paris – 1736) was a French painter and draughtsman. In 1678 he was apprenticed to Guy-Louis Vernansal; he later became a pupil of Jean Jouvenet and in 1684-85 of Bon Boullogne. By 1684 he was enrolled at the Académie Royale, Paris, and a year later won the Prix de Rome with his Construction of Noah’s Ark (untraced). He probably arrived in Rome towards the end of 1685, and he stayed until the winter of 1688-89. While in Italy he studied the work of Raphael and the Carracci family, as well as showing an interest in Correggio. He also led a student protest against the teaching régime of the Académie de France in Rome.
After some months in Lyon he returned to Paris in 1689 and began to work on minor commissions, including drawings of the statues in the park at Versailles. Two works of the turn of the century, Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife and Susanna and the Elders (both 1699; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum), indicate that he was in the forefront of the contemporary movement in religious art towards small-scale works destined for private collectors. Although sacred, the subjects were capable of a secular interpretation, and Bertin exploited this ambiguity to the full. More on Nicolas Bertin
John William Waterhouse, (1849–1917)
The Danaides, c. 1903
Oil on canvas
111 × 154.3 cm (43.7 × 60.7 in)
The Danaides, see above
John William Waterhouse (April 6, 1849 – February 10, 1917) was an English painter known for working in the Pre-Raphaelite style. He worked several decades after the breakup of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which had seen its heyday in the mid-nineteenth century, leading to his sobriquet “the modern Pre-Raphaelite”. Borrowing stylistic influences not only from the earlier Pre-Raphaelites but also from his contemporaries, the Impressionists, his artworks were known for their depictions of women from both ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legend.
Born in Italy to English parents who were both painters, he later moved to London, where he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Art. He soon began exhibiting at their annual summer exhibitions, focusing on the creation of large canvas works depicting scenes from the daily life and mythology of ancient Greece. Later on in his career he came to embrace the Pre-Raphaelite style of painting despite the fact that it had gone out of fashion in the British art scene several decades before. More on John William Waterhouse
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