The Rape of Orithyia by Boreas
After Gaspard Marsy (1624 – 1681) and Anselme Flamen (1647 – 1717)
France, 19th century
Bronze with a brown patina,
104 cm high
In the “Grand Commande” commissioned in 1674 by Colbert to decorate the park of Versailles with sculptures, were four groups representing rapes which were to be made after designs by Le Brun: The Rape of Proserpine, by Girardon, a symbol of Fire; The Rape of Cybele by Saturn, by Regnaudin, a symbol of Earth; Boreas and Orithyia, the Air; and Coronis and Neptune, Water (the last mentioned not executed). They were to be placed around a globe, symbol of the world, at the top of the escalier en fer à cheval. The project was never completed and the groups by Gaspard Marsy and Regnaudin were placed in the Parterre de l’Orangerie in 1687; removed in 1716 to the Tuileries, where they can still be seen.
Large contemporary bronze reductions were made, with the Rape of Orithyia as a pendant to the Proserpine, as in the pair surviving in Dresden. There are at least two different types of these large reproductions. The Dresden ones (110,3 cm) and a version in a private collection, Paris (105 cm) have elaborate and complex draperies (especially around the right leg and arm of Orithyia), and the head of Boreas has a different position, etc. The present bronze represents the other type with a square base.
Versions are in the Louvre, in the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico (99 cm), in the C.Aubry Collection, in Paris (100 cm).
Orithyia was a beautiful maiden and the youngest daughter of Erechtheus, the king of Athens. Erechtheus loved his daughter very much and wished to keep her forever close to him.
One day, while the wind Boreas was blowing in Athens, he happened to sight Orithyia who was happily playing around with her girlfriends. Amazed by the beauty of Orithyia, he deeply fell in love with her and went straight to her father to ask for her hand.
Orithyia's father pretended to be flattered and happily agreed at first, but then he tried to postpone the wedding in any way possible, making up excuses. With time, Boreas understood that the king wouldn’t really give away his daughter...so he decided to steal Orithyia and carry her away up to the sky.
Boreas and Orithyia settled in Thrace and gave birth to two daughters, Chione and Cleopatra , who would later on become a Queen of Thrace, in Northern Greece. The couple also gave birth to two twin sons, Zetes and Calais, who, like their father, grew wings during their adolescence. The twin brothers became later on companions of the Greek hero Jason during his quest for the Golden Fleece.
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