Sunday, April 9, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Audience of Two (2nd try)

6"x6" oil
This lovely gallery viewer  (my sister) is only one of many who are sneaking a peak at Jupiter and Callisto under a shady tree.  This is a very voyeuristic painting.  First, Callisto was a River Goddess who attended to and was quite chummy with Diana who warned her against men and gods.  Jupiter  had fallen in love with Callisto so he tricked her by disguising himself as Diana.  Like all Greek myths, this is just the beginning of a confusing and tragic story.  So the painting on the wall is of Jupiter, disguised as Diana, wooing Callisto.  Part of what makes it voyeuristic is that cupid is observing them from behind the tree, not to mention all the gallery viewers who visit it at the St. Petersburg  Museum of Fine Art and, now, you who are looking at this little painting.  So, this is the rest of this tawdry story:  Callisto became pregnant, had a son, and was then turned into a bear by Jupiter's jealous wife, Juno.  Years later Callisto the bear saw her son in the woods and ran to hug him.  Fearing he was going to be attacked by a bear, he shot and killed
his mother.  They now reside together in the evening sky as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.  This story has been painted in many forms by many famous artists.  This version is by Angelica Kauffman, one of those rare 18th Century successful women artists whose story has lived to be told.  Although she was Swedish, she resided and was famous in both London and Venice.  And I thought my life was complicated...go figure!

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