Diana and Actaeon

Karel van Manderc. 1590

Kunsthalle Bremen

Kunsthalle Bremen
Bremen, Germany

Born in the Southern Netherlands, Karel van Mander settled in Haarlem after traveling to Rome and Florence, contributing to making the Dutch city an important center of art, together with Hendrick Goltzius, Cornelis Cornelisz., and Gerrit Pietersz. Sweelinck. With its skillful composition and lively nudes, the Bremen drawing reveals Mannerist influences on van Mander. In terms of its handling of color and painterly effect, this is one of van Mander’s most unusual drawings. Indeed, it is considered to be one of his major works. We see here a highly dramatic moment from Ovid’s Metamorphoses: The hunter Actaeon has secretly observed the nymphs of the goddess Diana bathing. As a punishment for this, Diana has just turned him into a stag. Now his hounds approach. Failing to recognize him, they will savagely tear him to pieces. In the Protestant Netherlands, this story stood as a moralistic example for the sinful enjoyment of sensual beauty. Van Mander commented upon Actaeon’s fate in his famous Schilder-Boeck (Book of Painters), which was published in 1604. In it, he added the Wtleggingh—the first interpretation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the Dutch language—to the lives of earlier and contemporary artists.


  • Title: Diana and Actaeon
  • Creator: Karel van Mander
  • Date Created: c. 1590
  • Physical Dimensions: 315.0 x 419.0 mm
  • Type: drawing
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen. Kupferstichkabinett
  • Medium: Pen and brown and black ink, gray wash, heightened with white on paper with pink ground

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