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Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., “Rembrandt van Rijn/Philemon and Baucis/1658,” Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century, NGA Online Editions, http://purl.org/nga/collection/artobject/1204 (accessed December 07, 2016).

 

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Overview

After learning the fundamentals of drawing and painting in his native Leiden, Rembrandt van Rijn went to Amsterdam in 1624 to study for six months with Pieter Lastman (1583–1633), a famous history painter. Upon completion of his training Rembrandt returned to Leiden. Around 1632 he moved to Amsterdam, quickly establishing himself as the town’s leading artist. He received many commissions for portraits and attracted a number of students who came to learn his method of painting.

The Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses provided Dutch artists with a wide range of mythological subjects, most of which contain underlying moralizing messages on human behavior. Rembrandt here depicts the moment when Jupiter and Mercury quietly reveal themselves to the elderly couple Philemon and Baucis, as described in the eighth book of Ovid’s commentaries. Rembrandt, who was able to penetrate the essence of the myth as no artist ever had, silhouetted Mercury against the primary light source to enhance the inherent drama of the moment.

The moral of the story is that hospitality and openness to strangers are virtues that are always rewarded. As depicted by Rembrandt, the hosts Philemon and Baucis, who come to recognize that they are in the presence of gods when the food and wine keep replenishing themselves, try to catch their only goose so they can offer their divine guests better fare. Jupiter commands them not to kill the goose and blesses their sparse offering with a firm yet comforting gesture. Dressed in exotic and loosely draped robes, Jupiter dominates the scene and takes on a Christ-like appearance that strongly echoes the Christ from Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, which Rembrandt knew from a print. Leonardo’s composition had a profound impact on Rembrandt, and he used it in conceiving of a number of different subjects in prints, drawings, and paintings.

Entry

Ovid’s Metamorphoses provided Dutch artists with a wide range of mythological subjects, most of which contain underlying moralizing messages on human behavior. Surprisingly, the story of the visit of Jupiter and Mercury to the aged couple Philemon and Baucis, described by Ovid in the eighth book of his commentaries, was only rarely depicted.[1] For those artists who preferred to depict subjects in Ovid that allowed them to represent sensual scenes of love, betrayal, or deceit, the story had no appeal. The story of deities quietly revealing themselves to humble and devoted individuals, however, struck a responsive chord for Rembrandt that allowed him to penetrate the essence of the myth as no artist ever had.

The moral of the story, as interpreted by Karel van Mander at the beginning of the seventeenth century, is that hospitality and openness to strangers are virtues that are always rewarded.[2] Rembrandt evoked the warmth of the old couple’s personality and suggested much of Ovid’s vivid description of their humble abode, including the fire over which Baucis had cooked the cabbage and bacon for their meal. Yet, Rembrandt’s interest was not in portraying the eventual rewards of the couple’s generosity but in the moment of revelation. Ovid writes that Philemon and Baucis recognized that they were in the presence of gods when their bowls of food and decanters of wine kept replenishing themselves. In fear, they raised their hands in prayer. Then, in an effort to offer better fare, they tried to catch their only goose, which escaped their grasp and fled to the strangers for refuge. The moment Rembrandt has depicted is that in which Jupiter both commands them not to kill the goose and blesses their offering with a firm yet comforting gesture.

Early in his career, Rembrandt had painted a number of episodes from Ovid, including the Abduction of Proserpina, now in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, but the dramatic characterization of their narratives is totally different in kind from this quiet, reverent scene.[3] The differences in subject matter and presentation, between the dynamic theatricality of one and the subdued, evocative nature of the other, are characteristic of Rembrandt’s artistic evolution. Throughout his life, he carefully considered textual sources, whether they were biblical or mythological, but he also drew on others’ interpretations of comparable scenes for his inspiration.[4] When he first turned to Ovid around 1630, he did so under the influence of Rubens and, for example, clearly derived his inspiration for the Abduction of Proserpina from a print by Pieter Claesz Soutman (Flemish, c. 1580 - 1657) after a Rubens composition.[5] For Philemon and Baucis, painted in 1658, the visual sources are entirely different. They reflect a fusion of mythological and biblical images that helps account for the intense spirituality of the scene.

Adam Elsheimer (German, 1578 - 1610)’s painting Philemon and Baucis, 1608 (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden, inv. no. 1977), known to Rembrandt through Hendrik Goudt (Dutch, 1585 - 1648)’s engraving of 1612 [fig. 1], was a primary source of inspiration.[6] One sees here the gods lounging in the corner of the dimly lit, humble home of the old couple who are busy preparing the meal. Elsheimer, however, depicted an earlier moment of the episode, before Philemon and Baucis had become aware of the divinities’ identities. Rembrandt switched the relative positions of Jupiter and Mercury so that Jupiter, the primary deity, faces the viewer. Dressed in exotic, loosely draped robes, he dominates the scene and takes on a Christ-like appearance that strongly echoes that from the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (Florentine, 1452 - 1519). Rembrandt knew of this composition from a number of sources and made at least three drawings after it, the most extensive of which he executed around 1635 [fig. 2]. Leonardo’s composition had a profound impact on Rembrandt’s art for the rest of his life, and he adopted it for a number of different subjects in prints, drawings, and paintings.[7] In his 1654 etching, Christ at Emmaus, for example, he depicted Christ in a pose comparable to that seen in the Last Supper.[8] As Stechow and others have emphasized, Jupiter in Philemon and Baucis partakes of much the same spirit.[9]

Rembrandt’s appreciation of the thematic connections between Ovid’s story and Christ at Emmaus, however, did not just develop at the end of his life.[10] His earliest depiction of the biblical story, in 1628 [fig. 3], used as its compositional basis Goudt’s Philemon and Baucis print [fig. 1].[11] Here, however, Rembrandt transformed the light of the oil lamp into a mystical aureole of light behind Christ that frightens and astonishes the apostles. Rembrandt remembered this dramatic effect when he painted a comparable glow of light behind Mercury. Although the light here is more subdued, it serves to give a mysterious radiance to the darkness and to illuminate Jupiter’s golden raiment.

As in Rembrandt’s depictions of Christ at Emmaus [fig. 3], light, rather than symbolic attributes, signifies the revelation of divinity. Rembrandt also uses light to help accent important compositional elements. He reinforces the significance of Jupiter’s gesture, for example, by placing it on axis with a vertical board on the rear wall that is illuminated by Mercury’s aureole. He uses other elements of the dwelling to reinforce his figural composition: the diagonal beams and rope draped over the table both draw the group together and suggest the subdivision within it.

This work is the only extant Philemon and Baucis painting in Rembrandt’s oeuvre. Quite possibly, however, he included this subject within the series of scenes from Ovid that Baldinucci reports he painted for a Dutch merchant/magistrate.[12] Baldinucci probably learned of this series from Bernhard Keil (1624–1687), a Danish artist and Rembrandt pupil who traveled to Italy after being in Amsterdam from about 1642 to 1651. Although no dates for this series of paintings are known, it may belong to the period of Keil’s residence in Amsterdam. Two drawings in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin have frequently been considered preliminary drawings for the Washington painting.[13] The episodes from the story of Philemon and Baucis depicted in the drawings, however, are so different that they have to be understood as independent creations. Closer in concept is Rembrandt’s sympathetic drawing Saint Peter’s Prayer before the Raising of Tabitha, c. 1654/1655 (Musée Bonnat, Bayonne), in which Saint Peter’s pose resembles, in reverse, that of Philemon.[14]

The painting is in poor condition. Perhaps as a result of the transfer process, which was probably undertaken in the nineteenth century, there are losses in many of the thinly painted areas of the painting. A good deal of old Overpaint exists on the surface. The awkward lower portions of Mercury’s torso almost certainly result from such reconstructive work.[15] A mezzotint by Thomas Watson (British, 1743 or 1748 - 1781) of 1772 [fig. 4] provides an impression of the painting’s appearance at that time.

Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.

April 24, 2014

Inscription

lower left: Rembrandt f. 1658

Inscription

Provenance

Captain William Baillie [1723-1792], London; (his sale, Langford & Son, London, 1-2 February 1771, 2nd day, no. 73). possibly English private collection, by 1772.[1] Major Stanton; (Earl of Essex sale, Christie & Ansell, London, 31 January-1 February 1777, 2nd day, no. 75); Moris.[2] (Charles Sedelmeyer, Paris); Charles T. Yerkes, Jr. [1837-1905], Chicago and New York, by 1893;[3] (his sale, American Art Association, New York, 5-8 April 1910, no. 1160); (Scott and Fowles, New York); Otto H. Kahn [1867-1934], New York, by 1914 until at least April 1922; sold 1922, perhaps through (Scott and Fowles, New York) to Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania;[4] inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, after purchase by funds of the estate; gift 1942 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1920
Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1920, unnumbered catalogue.
1922
Rembrandt Paintings, Drawings and Etchings, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1922, no catalogue.
1969
Rembrandt in the National Gallery of Art [Commemorating the Tercentenary of the Artist's Death], National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1969, no. 18, repro.
1998
A Collector's Cabinet, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1998, no. 47.
2000
Greek Gods and Heroes in the Age of Rubens and Rembrandt, National Gallery and Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens; Dordrechts Museum, 2000-2001, no. 62, repro.
2004
Rembrandt, Albertina, Vienna, 2004, no. 133, repro.
2011
Rembrandt in America, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Cleveland Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2011-2012, no. 46, pl. 41.
Bibliography
n.d.
Catalogue from Collection of Charles T. Yerkes, Chicago, U.S.A.. Chicago, undated: no. 23.
1829
Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 7(1836):79-80, no. 194.
1877
Vosmaer, Carel. Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn: sa vie et ses oeuvres. 2nd ed. The Hague, 1877: 252-253.
1885
Dutuit, Eugène. Tableaux et dessins de Rembrandt: catalogue historique et descriptif; supplément à l'Oeuvre complet de Rembrandt. Paris, 1885: 58, no. 111.
1886
Wurzbach, Alfred von. Rembrandtgalerie. Stuttgart, 1886: 97, no. 493.
1893
Catalogue from Collection of Charles T. Yerkes, Chicago, U.S.A.. Chicago, 1893: no. 45.
1893
Michel, Émile. Rembrandt: Sa vie, son oeuvre et son temps. Paris, 1893: 446-447, 561.
1894
Michel, Émile. Rembrandt: His Life, His Work, and His Time. 2 vols. Translated by Florence Simmonds. New York, 1894: 2:128-129, 248.
1895
Stephens, F.G. "Mr. Yerkes' Collection at Chicago: The Old Masters." The Magazine of Art 18 (1895): 99.
1897
Bode, Wilhelm von, and Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. The Complete Work of Rembrandt. 8 vols. Translated by Florence Simmonds. Paris, 1897-1906: 6:6, 46, no. 407, repro.
1898
Sedelmeyer, Charles. Illustrated Catalogue of 300 Paintings by Old Masters of the Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French, and English schools, being some of the principal pictures which have at various time formed part of the Sedelmeyer Gallery. Paris, 1898: no. 137.
1899
Bell, Malcolm. Rembrandt van Rijn and His Work. London, 1899: 82, 184.
1904
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt: des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. Stuttgart, 1904: 325, 404, repro.
1904
Yerkes, Charles Tyson. Catalogue of paintings and sculpture in the collection of Charles T. Yerkes Esq., New York. 2 vols. New York (photogravures by Elson & Co., Boston), 1904: 1:no. 81, repro.
1905
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Rembrandt und seine Umgebung. Strasbourg, 1905: 97.
1906
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1906: repro. 325, 404.
1906
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "Rembrandt auf der Lateinschule." Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 27 (1906): 118-128.
1907
Bell, Malcolm. Rembrandt van Rijn. The great masters in painting and sculpture. London, 1907: 79, 156.
1907
Brown, Gerard Baldwin. Rembrandt: A Study of His Life and Work. London, 1907: 138, 211.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 6(1916):140-141, no. 212.
1907
Rosenberg, Adolf. The Work of Rembrandt, reproduced in over five hundred illustrations. Classics in Art 2. New York, 1907: 325, repro.
1907
Thieme, Ulrich, and Felix Becker, eds. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. 37 vols. Leipzig, 1907-1950: 29(1935):266.
1908
Freise, Kurt. "Rembrandt and Elsheimer." The Burlington Magazine 13 (April 1908): 38–39.
1908
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. 3rd ed. Stuttgart and Berlin, 1908: repro. 388, 562.
1909
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt: Des Meisters Gemälde. Edited by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. Stuttgart and Leipzig, 1909: repro. 388, 562.
1913
Rosenberg, Adolf. The Work of Rembrandt, reproduced in over five hundred illustrations. Classics in Art 2. Edited by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. 2nd ed. New York, 1913: repro. 325.
1914
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. The Art of the Low Countries. Translated by Mrs. Schuyler Van Rensselaer. Garden City, NY, 1914: 140-141, 248, no. 76.
1920
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition. Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1920: 9.
1921
Rosenberg, Adolf. The Work of Rembrandt. Edited by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Classics in Art 2. 3rd ed. New York, 1921: 388, repro.
1922
"Widener Purchases Famous Rembrandt." Art News 21 (9 December 1922): 1.
1923
Meldrum, David S. Rembrandt’s Painting, with an Essay on His Life and Work. New York, 1923: 202, pl. 404.
1923
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1923: unpaginated, repro.
1925
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Rembrandt, des Meisters Handzeichnungen. 2 vols. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben. Berlin, 1925–1934: 2(1934):407 (under nos. 607 and 608).
1929
Wilenski, Reginald Howard. An Introduction to Dutch Art. New York, 1929: 59-60.
1930
Borenius, Tancred. "The New Rembrandt." The Burlington Magazine 57 (August 1930): 53-59.
1931
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1931: 68, repro.
1931
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Rembrandt Paintings in America. New York, 1931: no. 132, repro.
1932
Rijckevorsel, J. L. A. A. M. van. "Rembrandt en de Traditie." Ph.D. diss., Rijksuniversiteit Nijmegen, 1932: 77-78, 80, repro.
1934
Stechow, Wolfgang. "Rembrandts Darstellungen des Emmausmahles." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 3 (1934): 329-341.
1935
Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt Gemälde, 630 Abbildungen. Vienna, 1935: no. 481, repro.
1935
Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt Schilderijen, 630 Afbeeldingen. Utrecht, 1935: no. 481, repro.
1936
Bredius, Abraham. The Paintings of Rembrandt. New York, 1936: no. 481, repro.
1938
Waldmann, Emil. "Die Sammlung Widener." Pantheon 22 (November 1938): 342.
1941
Kieser, Emil. "Über Rembrandts Verhältnis zur Antike." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 10 (1941/1942): 146-147, 160-161.
1941
Stechow, Wolfgang. "Recent Periodical Literature on 17th-Century Painting in the Netherlands and Germany." Art Bulletin 23 (September 1941): 225-231.
1941
Stechow, Wolfgang. "The Myth of Philemon and Baucis in Art." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 4 (January 1941): 103-113, fig. 28a.
1941
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "Jan van de Cappelle." The Art Quarterly 4 (Autumn 1941): 272-296.
1942
Bredius, Abraham. The Paintings of Rembrandt. 2 vols. Translated by John Byam Shaw. Oxford, 1942: 1:no. 481; 2:repro.
1942
National Gallery of Art. Works of art from the Widener collection. Washington, 1942: 6.
1945
Wilenski, Reginald Howard. Dutch Painting. Revised ed. London, 1945: 62.
1948
National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. Washington, 1948: 46, repro.
1948
Rosenberg, Jakob. Rembrandt. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA, 1948: 1:185.
1954
Benesch, Otto. The Drawings of Rembrandt: A Critical and Chronological Catalogue. 6 vols. London, 1954-1957: 5(1957):277, no. 958; 6(1957):396, no. A76.
1959
National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. Reprint. Washington, DC, 1959: 46, repro.
1960
Goldscheider, Ludwig. Rembrandt Paintings, Drawings and Etchings. London, 1960: 180, pls. 97, 98.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 313, 342, repro.
1964
Gantner, Joseph. Rembrandt und die Verwandlung klassicher Formen. Berlin, 1964: 157-159, pl. 48.
1964
Rosenberg, Jakob. Rembrandt: Life and Work. Revised ed. Greenwich, Connecticut, 1964: 300.
1965
National Gallery of Art. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1965: 110.
1966
Bauch, Kurt. Rembrandt Gemälde. Berlin, 1966: 7, no. 106, repro.
1968
Gerson, Horst. Rembrandt Paintings. Amsterdam, 1968: 103, color repro., 108, 132, 155, 357, 364-365, no. 278, repro., 499.
1968
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 98, repro.
1969
Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings. Revised by Horst Gerson. 3rd ed. London, 1969: repro. 390, 595, no. 481.
1969
Kitson, Michael. Rembrandt. London, 1969: no. 37, color repro. (also 1982 ed.).
1969
National Gallery of Art. Rembrandt in the National Gallery of Art: Commemorating the tercentenary of the artist's death. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1969: 6, 28-29, no. 18, repro.
1975
National Gallery of Art. European paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. Washington, 1975: 288, repro.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 283, no. 376, color repro.
1977
Bolten, J., and H. Bolten-Rempt. The Hidden Rembrandt. Translated by Danielle Adkinson. Milan and Chicago, 1977: 145-147, 149-150, color repro.
1982
Kitson, Michael. Rembrandt. 2nd ed. Oxford, 1982: no. 37, color repro.
1984
Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt: Zijn leven, zijn schilderijen. Maarssen, 1984: 323, 330, no. 373, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 283, no. 370, color repro.
1985
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985: 332, repro.
1985
Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt: His Life, His Paintings. New York, 1985: 323, 330, no. 373, repro.
1986
Sluijter, Eric Jan. "De "Heydensche Fabulen" in de Noordnederlandse schilderkunst circa 1560–1670: een proeve van beschrijving en interpretatie van schilderijen met verhalende onderwerpen uit de klassieke mythologie." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Leiden, 1986: 100.
1986
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Washington and Grand Rapids, 1986: 313.
1986
Tümpel, Christian. Rembrandt. Translated by Jacques and Jean Duvernet, Léon Karlson, and Patrick Grilli. Paris, 1986: repro. 249, 422, no. A26.
1990
Chapman, H. Perry. Rembrandt's Self-Portraits: A Study in Seventeenth-Century Identity. Princeton, 1990: 91, no. 135, repro.
1990
Liedtke, Walter A. "Dutch Paintings in America: The Collectors and their Ideals." In Great Dutch Paintings from America. Edited by Ben P.J. Broos. Exh. cat. Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The Hague and Zwolle, 1990: 43 fig. 30.
1991
Sello, Gottfried. "Beim Wein verrieten sich die Götter." Art Das Kunstmagazin 1 (January 1991): 82-88, repro.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 247-252, color repro. 249.
1998
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. A Collector's Cabinet. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1998: 67, no. 47.
2000
Paarlberg, Sander, and Peter Schoon. Greek gods and heroes in the age of Rubens and Rembrandt. Exh. cat. National Gallery/Alexandros Soutzos Museum and the Netherlands Institute, Athens; Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht. Athens, 2000: no. 62, repro.
2000
Wright, Christopher. Rembrandt. Collection Les Phares 10. Translated by Paul Alexandre. Paris, 2000: 74, fig. 58.
2002
Quodbach, Esmée. "The Last of the American Versailles: The Widener Collection at Lynnewood Hall." Simiolus 29, no. 1/2 (2002): 84, 96.
2002
Tromans, Nicholas. David Wilkie: painter of everyday life. Exh. cat. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 2002: 38, fig. 21.
2003
Golahny, Amy. Rembrandt's Reading: The Artist's Bookshelf of Ancient Poetry and History. Amsterdam, 2003: 225-226, fig. 63..
2004
Schröder, Klaus Albrecht, and Marian Bisanz Prakken. Rembrandt. Edition Minerva. Exh. cat. Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna. Wolfratshausen, 2004: 282, no. 133, repro.
2006
Schwartz, Gary. The Rembrandt Book. New York, 2006: 340, fig. 602.
2011
Keyes, George S., Tom Rassieur, and Dennis P. Weller. Rembrandt in America: collecting and connoisseurship. Exh. cat. North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Cleveland Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Arts. New York, 2011: no. 46, pl. 41, 23, 70, 148-150, 157, 198.
Technical Summary

The painting has been transferred and is now on a cradled, horizontally grained wood panel with a layer of gauze between the panel and paint layer. The original support also appears to have been wood. No ground layer is present; it was probably removed during the transfer.

The paint was applied in successive, medium-rich layers of varying thickness, with broad and free brushmarking giving way to finer strokes in the faces. X-radiographs indicate that Mercury’s right arm was originally higher and extended farther from his body. The upper edge of this underlying arm is now visible on the surface as a thin, white line. The nature of this line was mistaken by a previous restorer, who used it to form the upper edge of the glass on the table between Mercury and Jupiter. The paint has suffered severe abrasion, particularly in the darks where, as a result, the gauze interleaf is visible. Extensive repainting and reinforcement is found throughout. The losses were consolidated in 1977, and in 2008 the painting was treated to reduce the significantly discolored varnish and remove some of the old overpaint, but the majority of the overpaint was left in place.

Related IconClass Terms
22E12
glowing
25F36
swan
25K3
exoticism
41A2
interior
41B1
open fire +used symbolically
48A2
patron +Bernhar Keil
48A91
chiaroscuro
48B
artist +Leonardo da Vinci + influence of
57
morality
95A
Philemon and Baucis