This pair of oils on copper is typical of the Antwerp School production of the mid-seventeenth century. Inspired by the work of Rubens, these two paintings have each a very specific pictorial style, but due to their common theme (the hunt and the story of Diana) and their identical format, they constitute a very decorative pair.
Our two oils on copper both represent Diana, Goddess of the Hunt, accompanied by her nymphs.
Let's start by describing “Diana's Departure for the Hunt”. Diana, recognisable by the crescent moon on her tiara, is holding a spear with a red pompom and caresses a greyhound with a sinuous body. Two other dogs accompany her, as well as two nymphs, one of which has already grasped a bow and raised her skirt in order to be able to follow Diana on her fast run. In a slightly naughty detail, a third nymph, bare chested, receives forceful attention from a bearded satyr with a muscular body and deer legs. On the right side of the picture, we can also sense the head and the left arm of a second satyr - without knowing whether he is saluting Diana or trying to hail her two companions.
The very low sun on the horizon suggests it is early in the morning, ideal for setting off for a hunt.
The subject can be related to a very large painting (216 x 178.7 cm) thought to date from the early days of Rubens’ studio in 1615. It is now in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Another equally monumental studio version (287.5 x 183.8 cm), very similar and datable to 1627-1628, is exhibited at the Getty Museum.
Our painting follows the same decorative scheme by introducing a depth of field to compensate for the reduction in size of the work, in order to preserve a certain monumentality. While the characters are the same, and our painting takes up the dominant colours, its composition is much more airy and now opens up on the right onto a country perspective. The dissociation of the group of characters makes it possible to reveal the body of the nymph placed next to her companion, a body that had hitherto been hidden by that of the goddess, and to round off the chromatic symphony with the bright orange of her dress.
This new distancing of the figures results in a mechanical lengthening of the body of the greyhound, whose hind legs have remained fixed in relation to the group formed by the satyr and the nymph, but whose body is lengthened by the distance to the goddess.
The painting of the characters, in which the influence of Teniers can be seen, is of great finesse. The painting takes up an amusing detail already present in Rubens' paintings: the feet of the nymph on the left are lifted up by the vigour of the satyr's assault.
Our second painting “The Bath of Diana”, a symmetrical composition with a vanishing point this time to the left, shows the moment when Diana, while bathing in what we imagine is a basin at the foot of a fountain, is caught naked, surrounded her companions, by the hunter Acteon who we can see on the left.
All her attendants are busy trying to cover up the infuriated goddess, recognizable once again by the crescent moon on her tiara.
The composition and polychromy in our painting remain very faithful to the works of Rubens. In a beautiful late afternoon light, the blue dress of the nymph displayed from the back, the red of the coat thrown onto the goddess, bring out the softness of the nymphs’ complexions. The glass jug, the comb, the brush and the bowl form a refined still life at the feet of the goddess.
The group of five figures on the right can be found directly in a large painting by Rubens (152.5 x120cm) dating from the end of the artist's career (ca. 1635-1640) and which is exhibited at the Boijmans van Beunigen Museum in Rotterdam. The entire composition appears in another painting copied from Rubens, in a smaller format (0.49 x 0.75 cm), belonging to the Louvre Museum . It is possible that our copper sheet has been cut at the sides (at the level of the figure of Actaeon on the left and to the right of the nymph crouching at the feet of the goddess) to match the size of the painting depicting Diana's Departure for the Hunt.
Delevery information :
The prices indicated are the prices for purchases at the gallery.
Depending on the price of the object, its size and the location of the buyer we are able to offer the best transport solution which will be invoiced separately and carried out under the buyer's responsibility.