Jupiter Among the Corybantes

Giuseppe Maria Crespi
Italian (1664–1747)
18th century
c. 1730
Oil on copper
26 1/4 x 26 1/4 in. (66.7 x 66.7 cm) Framed: 32 1/2 x 32 3/4 x 2 3/4 in. (82.6 x 83.2 x 7 cm)
AP 1984.17
Currently On View
Giuseppe Maria Crespi, the most innovative Bolognese painter of his day, was especially acclaimed for his intimate genre scenes. His fresh approach also infuses his more traditional subjects, such as Jupiter Among the Corybantes. The classical subject, which allowed Crespi to paint a bevy of young women in graceful attitudes, is the upbringing of the god Jupiter. To avert the prophesy of the oracle that a son would succeed him, Saturn habitually devoured his male children. To protect their son, his wife took the infant Jupiter to Crete to be reared by the Corybantes. In Crespi’s own words, the nymphs, “thinking that his cries might reveal him, as is usual with babies, devised a plan to beat out a certain cadence, which they called Bactili, and so in unison they clanged little cymbals made of bronze, so that the cries of the infant Jupiter could not reach the ears of Saturn.” Painted on copper, the painting retains its delicate, transparent glazes and vibrant colors, especially in the apricot and cherry draperies of the figures and the billowing canopy that shields Jupiter from Saturn’s Olympian gaze. The melodious composition is arranged like musical notes, the dainty, ovoid heads of the maidens echoing the forms of the diminutive cymbals, vessels, and floral wreaths they hold.

Provenance

(Lynven, Inc., New York); purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1984.