Seventeenth-century connoisseurs prized Rembrandt's etchings as much as they did his oil paintings. Jupiter and Antiope is the most powerfully erotic etching of his late period. Rembrandt created approximately 290 etchings, many postcard-size or smaller, depicting landscapes, portraits, and biblical, mythological, and genre scenes. Jupiter and Antiope is one of only a handful of his prints illustrating explicitly sexual content.
According to Roman legend, the god Jupiter was so entranced by the beauty of the princess Antiope that he disguised himself as a satyr and took her by force. Here, Rembrandt illustrates the moment before Jupiter wakes the princess, who reclines in a highly artificial pose. The satyr conforms to the conventional appearance of the creature, but the face is undoubtedly that of Rembrandt himself. Pulling away the sheet, he voyeuristically admires Antiope's body.
Jupiter and Antiope is also the artist's last rendering of a story from classical mythology. By incorporating large white areas of negative space, Rembrandt intensifies the gentle, dreamlike eroticism of the subject. This print borrows heavily from Annibale Carracci's depiction of the myth, and, in turn, Rembrandt's rendering later inspired one of Pablo Picasso's most famous prints, Faun Unveiling a Sleeping Girl.