Monday, January 25, 2016

From Mythology Into History

Two different takes to start things off on one subject: the myth of the abduction of Europa by Zeus, who tended to run around and cheat on his wife by transforming himself into all sorts of things. You know, you'd think Hera would take her anger out on that cheating lout of a husband instead of the women or any offspring of those dalliances, but no....

This first painting, The Rape Of Europa, is by the Italian painter Guido Reni, and dates back circa 1637-39.

The second, by Dutch artist Caesar Boetius van Everdingen, is an oil painting from circa 1650 titled The Abduction Of Europa.

This oil painting continues with the mythological side of things, entitled Ulysses Discovering Astynax Hidden In Hector's Tomb. It is by the French artist Sebastian Bourdon, dating to 1654-56, and deals with the fall of Troy to the Greek army under Odysseus (otherwise known as Ulysses to the Romans, who were too lazy to actually devise their own gods and heroes and just renamed the Greek ones).

This marble bust of an aging Cosimo de' Medici was done between 1715-20 by the Italian sculptor Giovanni Foggini.

Moving forward in time, we have this portrait by British artist George Romney, depicting the Mohawk warrior and chief Joseph Brant, known to his people as Thayendanegea. It was painted in 1776.

Today I finish up with Benjamin West's The Death Of General Wolfe. This is the primary version of the painting- there are at least four variants by West out there, including one in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. It depicts the dying commanding general James Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham at the end of the Battle of Quebec in 1759, the pivotal battle of the French & Indian War. It is impossible to pass by this canvas and not stop to take it in.


  1. I love all the artwork you are sharing with us.

  2. The culture has to be varied, to know only one thing ... it's not good. So now we see painting, right?


  3. Been gone for a looong time, but hope now to have more time for commenting. I used to be bored stiff with classical art until I had a fantastic art history teacher. I found art h istory to be the most useful non-required class I ever took.

  4. Ah, but maybe Zeus was too powerful to be dealt with directly. :-)

  5. Between yesterday and today, I'm getting a great art history lesson! Keep it coming. I'll bet you already knew all of this!


  6. @Denise: I love showing it.

    @Tomas: yes.

    @Pat: teachers can do that.

    @Revrunner: thunderbolts or not, any guy who let's himself be led around by part of his anatomy south of the waistline can be dealt with directly!

    @Janis: the mythology has always fascinaated me.

  7. can't say any of them strike my fancy...sorry.

  8. Love the last one. When on a tour at the Louvre, the guide explained that they often painted friends or their own faces, the original selfies, into the paintings. And they weren't too accurate at the setting, either!

  9. Another lovely tour of the gallery

  10. Great and interesting series, William !
    Thanks for sharing !

  11. That Medici sculpture is a bit on the scary side.

  12. @Gill: everyone has different artistic tastes.

    @Lauren: I'm enjoying showing it.

    @Jennifer: some of that's certainly to be found in paintings here.

    @Mo: thank you!

    @Karl: you're welcome.

    @Sharon: even old, Cosimo looks like the sort you don't want mad at you!

    @Tanya: thanks!

  13. I had to go back to your title to see how all these art pieces were tied together. I'm surprised so many paintings from the 1600's are in the gallery.

  14. There are some really bizarre stories in mythology!

  15. There are some powerful paintings here, drenched in the blood of history.

  16. @Red: there are a lot of them.

    @Beth: thank you!

    @Linda: there are a lot of them. I'm probably too hard on the Romans; after all, a lot of Greeks came over in the years before Rome really rose, and the Romans liked their stories.

    @Nancy: thank you!

    @Lowell: especially the Trojan War.

  17. Great works: Guido Reni is one of my favorite painters, and some works of Foggini are still in our Cathedral...

  18. deep colors (and some deep subjects). :)

  19. Excellent collection. Ahhhh, les plaines d'Abraham, Montcalm...

  20. Another great assortment, William!

  21. @VP: I do like Reni's style.

    @Tex: indeed!

    @Ciel: thank you!

    @Marleen: thanks!

    @Jackie: wait until you see tomorrow's post.

    @RedPat: thank you!

  22. I certainly am enjoying this series William.

  23. Some classical art. Quite a fine selection!

  24. The old masters certainly had a flair for the dramatic! Beautifully shown here William.

  25. I enjoy seeing paintings and sculptures of people and places made before we had cameras to document history. I wonder how much is romanticized and how much is "real." (The same could be said about photos.)

  26. I saw several busts of the Medici family when I was in Florence last year. One looked quite a bit like this one. One comes away with the impression that there must have been quite a bit of inbreeding among the Medici, since they became uglier and uglier as the generations moved on.

  27. I liked your comment on the Romans...

  28. @Mari: it is!

    @Lois: thank you!

    @Kay: indeed!

    @Grace: they did!

    @EG: thank you!

    @Jack: probably.

    @Luiz: makes sense to me!