Wednesday, May 19, 2010

gods whims

Aegina Visited by Jupiter, 1767–69
Jean Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725–1805)
Oil on canvas; 57 7/8 x 77 1/8 in. (147 x 195.9 cm)
Gift of Harry N. Abrams and Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, Pfeiffer, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds, 1970 (1970.295)

The young woman is almost certainly Aegina, daughter of the river god Asopus, who was visited by Jupiter in the guise of fire and was later carried off by him in the form of an eagle. This unfinished picture may be an attempt by Greuze at a reception piece for the French Royal Academy. In 1767 he was barred by that organization from exhibiting in the Salon for having failed to fulfill this requirement. The same year, in a letter to Diderot, Greuze wrote that he "should very much like to paint a woman totally nude without offending modesty." It is possible that he was inspired by Rembrandt's "Danae" (State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), then in Paris. Although incomplete and very different in nature, "Aegina" shares with Greuze's final presentation piece "Septimus Severus Reproaching Caracalla" (Musée du Louvre, Paris) its size, central nude figure of heroic proportions, and tripod copied from the antique.

1636 (40 Kb); Oil on canvas; The Hermitage at St. Petersburg

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