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Jupiter and Io

Antonio da Correggio1520/1540

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

When Io fled from Jupiter – in Greek and Roman mythology the king of gods and man, the master of Heaven and Earth – he summoned dark clouds in broad daylight in order to keep the object of his desire from escaping and to seduce her in all secrecy, because he feared the revenge of his jealous wife, Juno. Using a narrow upright format, Correggio focuses the passionate encounter on the view of the delicate nude back, placing it in a setting that is warm and humid. With great elegance he depicts the erotic union of the god with Io, the mortal daughter of the river god Inachus: Jupiter’s face shimmers softly through the grey fog as he kisses Io, while his hand gently grasps her waist; the supposed victim seems to have abandoned any thought of escape. The deer drinking in the bottom right corner gives the erotic motif a trace of Christian decorum: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” (Ps. 42:1.)Correggio’s ability to combine a mystical depiction of nature with the classical figural ideal and the expression of sublime emotion made especially his later works important forerunners of Baroque artistic principles. The present painting was created along with The Abduction of Ganymede (GG 276), Leda and the Swan (Berlin, Picture Gallery) and Danae (Rome, Galleria Borghese) on a commission from Duke Federico Gonzaga of Mantua, who most likely gave the two paintings that are now in Vienna to Emperor Charles V as a gift. There was probably a certain reason for doing so: the political significance of depictions of mythological or historical rape scenes. They were widely accepted as metaphors of absolute power, which ideally, however, should have a beneficent effect. This would explain the willing consent of the victim in the present painting. © Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2010

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Details

  • Title: Jupiter and Io
  • Creator: Antonio Allegri, called Correggio
  • Date Created: 1520/1540
  • Style: Italian Renaissance
  • Provenance: 1532 maybe owned by Emperor Charles V; 1605 bought by Emperor Rudolf II.
  • Physical Dimensions: w735 x h1620 cm (without frame)
  • Inventory Number: GG 274
  • Artist Biography: Born Antonio Allegri, Correggio was named after the town of his birth. His ability to manipulate light and shade to create luminous atmospheric effects resulted in some of the most sumptuous religious paintings of the Italian Renaissance. Giorgio Vasari, a sixteenth-century biographer of artists, wrote, "everything that is to be seen by his hand is admired as something divine." Correggio was profoundly influenced by the style and technique used by the painter Andrea Mantegna. By the age of twenty-nine, Correggio was probably working in Parma, the center of his greatest activity. The frescoes he painted in the dome of the cathedral there served as a model of dome decorations long after his death. Correggio inspired future generations of artists as diverse as the Carracci family, Rubens, and Boucher. ©J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Type: paintings
  • External Link: http://www.khm.at/en/collections/picture-gallery
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas

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