Thursday, June 29, 2017

Harsh Weather

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Winter
1735
oil on canvas
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Claude-Joseph Vernet
Storm
1765
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg
                     
                                                 And over all their heads
The god's king, in abhorred claps, his thunder rattl'd out.
Beneath them Neptune tost the earth; the mountains round about
Bow'd with affright and shooke their heads; Jove's hill the earthquake felt
(Steepe Ida), trembling at her rootes, and all her fountaines spilt,
Their browes all crannied. Troy did nod: the Grecian navie plaid
(As on the sea); th'infernall king, that all things frayes, was fraid,
And leapt affrighted from his throne, cried out, lest over him
Neptune should rend in two the earth, and so his house so dim,
So lothsome, filthy and abhord of all the gods beside,
Should open both to gods and men. Thus all things shooke and cri'd.

 Iliad, xx, 56-66, translated by George Chapman (1611)

John Constable
Stormy Sea, Brighton
ca. 1828
oil on paper mounted on canvas
Yale Center for British Art

Peter Paul Rubens
Stormy Landscape with Philemon and Baucis
ca. 1625
oil on panel
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Ludolf Bakhuizen
Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee
1695
oil on canvas
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Eugène Delacroix
Christ on the Sea of Galilee
1854
oil on canvas
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Eugène Delacroix
Christ on the Sea of Galilee
1841
oil on canvas
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Samuel Palmer
Summer storm near Pulborough, Sussex
ca. 1851
watercolor
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Crescenzio Onofri
Man fleeing storm
before 1698
drawing
Teylers Museum, Haarlem

From the heights the Sire of gods
And men rolled dreadful thunder; and beneath
Poseidon made the infinite earth to quake,
And the steep mountain-summits: all the roots
Of many-fountained Ida and all her peaks,
The Trojans' city and the Achæans' ships
Were shaken.  Hades, lord of shades below,
Was scared, and leapt in terror from his throne
And screamed for fear Poseidon earthquake-lord
Should burst apart the earth above his head,
And his abode be bared before the eyes
Of mortals and immortals  his abode
Ghastly and dank, which e'en the gods abhor.
So huge arose the clash of battling gods.

 Iliad, xx, 56-66, translated by Sir William Marris (1934)

Jan Brueghel the Elder
Beach with sailboats and stormy sea
1614
drawing
Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin

Rembrandt
Cottages under a stormy sky 
ca. 1635
wash drawing
Albertina, Vienna

Johan Christian Dahl
Thunderclouds
1831
oil on paper mounted on canvas
National Gallery of Norway, Oslo

Gaspard Dughet
Mountainous landscape with approaching storm
1638-39
oil on canvas
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Vincent van Gogh
Wheat-field in rain
1889
oil on canvas
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Childe Hassam
Rainy day, Boston
1885
oil on canvas
Toledo Museum of Art (Ohio)

From high above the father of gods and men made thunder
terribly, while Poseidon from deep under them shuddered
all the illimitable earth, the sheer heads of the mountains.
And all the feet of Ida with her many waters were shaken
And all her crests, and the city of Troy, the ships of the Achaians.
Aїdoneus, lord of the dead below, was in terror
and sprang from his throne and screamed aloud, for fear that above him
he who circles the land, Poseidon, might break the earth open
And the houses of the dead lie open to men and immortals,
ghastly and mouldering, so the very gods shudder before them:
such was the crash that sounded as the gods came driving together in wrath. 

 Iliad, xx, 56-66, translated by Richmond Lattimore (1951)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Supernatural Beings Painted Naturalistically

Rembrandt
Minerva in her Study
1631
oil on panel
Gemäldegalerie Berlin

Rembrandt's sumptuous Minerva in her Study was owned from a very early date by the hereditary Princes of Orange. William of Orange took Minerva along with him to England when he became that county's king in 1689. When he died in 1702, Minerva was bequeathed in his will to the King of Prussia. The first two centuries of the picture's life were thus passed in relative privacy, on the walls of various palace apartments. In the 1830s when the Prussian state opened a public art museum in Berlin, the painting was in the core-group of royal pictures that went on open view there for the first time in their history. Minerva in her Study was mistakenly but officially attributed to Jan Lievens or Ferdinand Bol until the 1880s, when Rembrandt's name became reattached. The panel was allowed only a little more than a century of peace for hanging on a brocaded wall in a public room at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, when the Second World War sent her on a new round of travels and perils. German museum officials decided to bury the most important museum pictures in a salt mine to prevent destruction by American bombs. The conquering Americans naturally then became the ones who opened the salt mine, and this meant that they systematically shipped the masterpieces to America. Minerva along with other paintings owned by the German state went on a propaganda tour (or Roman Triumph) starting at the National Gallery in Washington DC and then wending her way through the municipal museums of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago. As the 1940s turned into the 1950s, these former Gemäldegalerie paintings were finally sent home (but none to East Germany). This was not, however, a return to anything like the stability that prevailed on gallery walls during the 19th century, much less the unbroken peace at Sans Souci Palace during the 18th. Minerva has traveled recently both to Amsterdam and to Tokyo for purposes of temporary exhibition. And as has been noted here before (with persistent futility), the art public in general deludes itself into supposing that the shipping of old paintings is value-neutral. Works never travel without damage and loss. Their welfare is sacrificed to public relations.

Edwin Landseer
Scene from Midsummer Night's Dream - Titania and Bottom
ca. 1848-51
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne

Maerten de Vos
Abduction of Europa
ca. 1590
oil on panel
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Frederic Leighton
Perseus and Andromeda
1891
oil on canvas
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Angelica Kauffmann
Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus
1774
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Frederic Leighton
Cymon and Iphigenia
1884
oil on canvas
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Peter Paul Rubens
Prometheus Bound
ca. 1611-18
oil on canvas
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Jean-Jacque-François Le Barbier
Cupid in a Tree
ca. 1795-1805
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Bartolomeo Guidobono
The Sorceress
ca. 1685-95
oil on canvas
Cantor Center, Stanford University

Annibale Carracci
Pan
ca. 1592
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Caravaggio
Cupid as Victor
ca. 1601
oil on canvas
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Cornelis van Haarlem
Fall of Ixion
1588
oil on canvas
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Bartholomeus Spranger
Hercules, Dejanira, and Nessus
ca. 1580-82
oil on canvas
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Anthony van Dyck and Jan Roos
Vertumnus and Pomona
ca. 1625
oil on canvas
Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa

17th-century Depictions of Ancient Mythical Beings

Isaac Oliver
Nymphs and Satyrs
ca 1605-10
wash drawing
Royal Collection, Windsor
 
Camillo Procaccini
Fantastic Scene with Beasts, Monsters, and Satyr
before 1629
drawing
Royal Collection,  Windsor

Hendrick ter Brugghen
Sleeping Mars
1629
oil on panel
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

"Even the Sun, who with his central light guides all the stars, has felt the power of love.  The Sun's loves we will relate.  This god was first, 'tis said, to see the shame of Mars and Venus; this god sees all things first.  Shocked at the sight, he revealed her sin to the goddess' husband, Vulcan, Juno's son, and where it was committed. Then Vulcan's mind reeled and the work upon which he was engaged fell from his hands. Straightway he fashioned a net of fine links of bronze, so thin that they would escape detection of the eye.  Not the finest threads of wool would surpass that work; no, not the web which the spider lets down from the ceiling beam.  He made the web in such a way that it would yield to the slightest touch, the least movement. and then he spread it deftly over the couch.  Now when the goddess and her paramour had come thither, by the husband's art and by the net so cunningly prepared they were both caught and held fast in each other's arms.  Straightway Vulcan, the Lemnian, opened wide the ivory doors and let in the other gods.  There lay the two in chains, disgracefully, and some one of the merry gods prayed that he might be so disgraced.  The gods laughed, and for a long time this story was the talk of heaven."

 from Book 4 of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, in the Loeb Classical Library edition, translated by Frank Justus Miller, revised by G.P. Goold (Harvard University Press, 1977)

Nicolas Poussin
Mars and Venus
ca. 1630
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Peter Paul Rubens
Venus and Mars
ca. 1632-35
oil on canvas
Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa

Peter Paul Rubens
Achilles educated by Centaur Chiron
ca. 1630-35
oil on panel (modello, for finished painting or fresco)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam

Jacob Jordaens
Satyr playing the Pipe
ca. 1639
oil on canvas (fragment of larger piece)
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Claude Lorrain
Landscape with Nymph and Satyr Dancing
1641
oil on canvas
Toledo Museum of Art (Ohio)

François Duquesnoy
Marsyas playing Pipes, with two Fauns
before 1643
drawing
British Museum

Guido Reni
Study for head of Marsyas
ca. 1620-25
drawing
Royal Collection, Windsor



Salvatore Castiglione
Bacchanal with Satyrs and Lion
ca. 1650-55
drawing
Royal Collection, Windsor

Peter Lely
Nymphs by a Fountain
ca. 1650-55
oil on canvas
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Caesar van Everdingen
Bacchus on Throne with Nymphs offering wine and fruit
ca. 1658-70
oil on canvas
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

"The priest had bidden the people to celebrate a Bacchic festival; all serving-women to be excused from toil; with their mistresses they must cover their breasts with the skins of beasts, they must loosen the ribands of their hair, and with garlands upon their heads they must hold in their hands the vine-wreathed thyrsus. And he had prophesied that the wrath of the god would be merciless if he were disregarded.  The matrons and young wives all obey, put by weaving and workbaskets, leave their tasks unfinished; they burn incense, calling on Bacchus, naming him also Bromius, Lyaeus, son of the thunderbolt, twice born, child of two mothers; they hail him as Nyseus also, Thyoneus of the unshorn locks, Lenaeus, planter of the joy-giving vine, Nyctelius, father of Eleleus, Iacchus, and Euhan, and all the many names besides by which thou art known, O Liber, throughout the towns of Greece."

"For thine is unending youth, eternal boyhood; thou art the most lovely in the lofty sky; thy face is virgin-seeming, if without horns thou stand before us. The Orient owns thy sway, even to the bounds where remotest Ganges leaves swart India. Pentheus you didst destroy, thou awful god, and Lycurgus, armed with the two-edged battle-axe (impious were they both), and didst hurl the Tuscan sailors into the sea.  Lynxes, with bright reins harnessed, draw thy car: baccant women and satyrs follow thee, and that old man, who, drunk with wine, supports his staggering limbs on  his staff and clings weakly to his misshapen ass. Where'er thou goest, glad shouts of youth and cries of women echo round, with drum of tambourine, the cymbals' clash, and the shrill piping of the flute." 

 from Book 4 of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, in the Loeb Classical Library edition, translated by Frank Justus Miller, revised by G.P. Goold (Harvard University Press, 1977)

Claude Audran the Younger
Mars in Chariot drawn by Wolves
1673
oil on canvas
Château de Versailles

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Diana, her brother Apollo and their colleague Mercury

Giulio Romano and workshop
Birth of Diana and Apollo
ca. 1530-40
oil on canvas
Royal Collection, Great Britain
acquired by Charles I from the Gonzaga collection in Mantua

Abraham Bloemaert
Mercury, Argus, and Io
ca. 1592
oil on canvas
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

Jean Lemaire
Mercury, Argus and Io
ca. 1625-40
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

"When Mercury was going on to tell this story, he saw that all those eyes had yielded and were closed in sleep. Straightway he checks his words, and deepens Argus' slumber by passing his magic wand over those sleep-faint eyes.  And forthwith he smites with his hooked sword the nodding head just where it joins the neck and sends it bleeding down the rocks, defiling the rugged cliff with blood.  Argus, thou liest low: the light which thou hadst within thy many fires is all put out; and one darkness fills thy hundred eyes.'"

"Saturnia took these eyes and set them on the feathers of her bird, filling his tail with star-like jewels.  Straightway she flamed with anger, nor did she delay the fulfillment of her wrath.  She set a terror-bearing fury to work before the eyes and heart of her Grecian rival, planted deep within her breast a goading fear, and hounded her in flight through all the world.  Thou, O Nile, alone didst close her boundless toil.  When she reached the stream, she flung herself down on her knees upon the river bank; with head thrown back she raised her face, which alone she could raise, to the high stars, and with groans and tears and agonized mooings she seemed to voice her griefs to Jove and to beg him to end her woes.  Thereupon Jove threw his arms about his spouse's neck and begged her at last to end her vengeance, saying, "Lay aside all fear for the future; she shall never be a source of grief to you again," and he called upon the Stygian  pools to witness his oath."

"The goddess's wrath is soothed; Io gains back her former looks, and becomes what she was before. The rough hair falls away from her body, her horns disappear, her great round eyes grow smaller, her gaping mouth is narrowed, her shoulders and her hands come back, and the hoofs are gone, being changed each into five nails.  No trace of the heifer is left in her save only the fair whiteness of her body.  And now the nymph, able at last to stand upon two feet, stands erect; yet fears to speak, lest she moo in the heifer's way, and with fear and trembling she resumes her long-abandoned speech."

 from Book 1 of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, in the Loeb Classical Library edition, translated by Frank Justus Miller, revised by G.P. Goold (Harvard University Press, 1977)

Alessandro Turchi
Diana and Actaeon
ca. 1600
oil on canvas
Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins

Domenichino
Apollo and Daphne
ca. 1616-18
drawing
Royal Collection

Guido Reni
Apollo in the Sun Chariot
before 1642
drawing
Albertina, Vienna

Cosmas Damian Asam
Apollo in the Sun Chariot
1730
wash drawing
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

"Now when Clymene's son had climbed the steep path which leads thither, and had come beneath the roof of his sire whose fatherhood had been questioned, straightway he turned him to his father's face, but halted some little space away; for he could not bear the radiance at a nearer view.  Clad in a purple robe, Phoebus Apollo sat on his throne gleaming with brilliant emeralds.  To right and left stood Day and Month, and Year and Century, and the Hours set at equal distances.  Young spring was there, wreathed with a floral crown; Summer, all unclad with garland of ripe grain; Autumn was there, stained with the trodden grape, and icy Winter with white and bristly locks. Seated in the midst of these, the Sun, with the eyes which behold all things, looked on the youth filled with terror at the strange new sights, and said: "Why hast thou come?  What seekest thou in this high dwelling, Phaëthon,  a son no father need deny?"  The lad replied: "O common light of this vast universe, Phoebus, my father, if thou grantest me the right to use that name, if Clymene is not hiding her shame beneath an unreal pretence, grant me a proof, my father, by which all may know me for thy true son, and take away the uncertainty from my mind." 

 from Book 2 of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, in the Loeb Classical Library edition, translated by Frank Justus Miller, revised by G.P. Goold (Harvard University Press, 1977)

Stefano Pozzi
Apollo and Daphne
1730
drawing on blue paper
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

François Boucher
Mercury entrusting the Infant Bacchus to Nymphs
1734
oil sketch on canvas
Cincinnati Art Museum

Angelica Kauffmann
Diana and her Nymphs bathing
ca. 1778-82
oil on canvas
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Master of the Giants
 Apollo and Daphne
ca. 1779
drawing
Yale Center for British Art

Anonymous French printmaker
Diana and Callisto
1780s
stipple-engraving
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

"But see, Diana, with her train of nymphs, approaches along the slopes of Maenalus, proud of her trophies of the chase. She sees our maiden [Callisto] and calls to her.  At first she flees in fear, lest this should be Jove in disguise again.  But when she sees the other nymphs coming too, she is reassured and joins the band.  Alas, how hard it is not to betray a guilty conscience in the face!  She walks with downcast eyes, not, as was her wont, close to her goddess, and leading all the rest.  Her silence and her blushes give clear tokens of her plight; and, were not Diana herself a maid, she could know her guilty by a thousand signs; it is said that the nymphs knew it.  Nine times since then the crescent moon had grown full orbed, when the goddess, quitting the chase and overcome by the sun's hot rays, came to a cool grove through which a gently murmuring stream flowed over smooth white sands.  The place delighted her and she dipped her feet into the water.  Delighted too with this, she said to her companions: "Come, no one is near to see; let us disrobe and bathe us in the brook."  The Arcadian blushed, and, while all the rest obeyed, she only sought excuses for delay.  But her companions forced her to comply, and there her shame was openly confessed.  As she stood terror-stricken, vainly striving to hide her state, Diana cried: "Begone! and pollute not our sacred pool," and so expelled her from the company. 

The great Thunderer's wife had known all this long since; but she had put off her vengeance until a fitting time.  And now that time was come; for to add a sting to Juno's hate, a boy, Arcas, had been born of her rival.  Whereto when she turned her angry mind and her angry eyes, "See there!" she cried, "nothing was left, adulteress, than to breed a son, and publish my wrong by his birth, a living witness to my lord's shame. But thou shalt suffer for it.  Yea, for I will take away thy beauty wherewith thou dost delight thyself, forward girl, and him who is my husband." So saying, she caught her by the hair full in front and flung her face-foremost to the ground.  And when the girl stretched out her arms in prayer for mercy, her arms began to grow rough with black shaggy hair; her hands changed into feet tipped with sharp claws; and her lips, which but now Jove had praised, were changed to broad, ugly jaws; and, that she might not move him with entreating prayers, her power of speech was taken from her, and only a harsh, terrifying growl came hoarsely from her throat.  Still her human feelings remained, though she was now a bear."    

 from Book 2 of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, in the Loeb Classical Library edition, translated by Frank Justus Miller, revised by G.P. Goold (Harvard University Press, 1977)

Arnold Böcklin
Sleeping Diana watched by two Fauns
ca. 1877-85
oil on canvas
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Pompeo Batoni
Mercury crowning Philosophy Mother of the Arts
1747
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg