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Leda and the Swan

Antonio da Correggioaround 1532

Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

This picture was part of a cycle depicting Jupiter's amorous adventures in various guises, which Correggio painted for the Duke of Mantua, Federico II Gonzaga, c. 1530/32. Leda, the principal figure in the Berlin picture, was the daughter of the King of Aetolia, and married to the Spartan King Tyndareus. Correggio painted the commonest of the various versions of the ancient myth: Jupiter approached Leda on the banks of the river Eurota in the guise of a swan and seduced her. Leda and the swan can be seen on the bank in front of a clump of trees, on the left are two amoretti with wind instruments and a boyish Cupid with his lyre. lt is uncertain whether the figures on the right are Leda's companions or a simultaneous presentation of other scenes from the story. Three other pictures from the cycle have survived as well as the "Leda": the painting of the "Danäe" in Rome, and also the "Abduction of Ganymede" and "Io", both in Vienna. Egon Verheyen has suggested that the pictures were intended to decorate a hall in the Palazzo del Tè, the Duke's summer residence. The hall was part of an "appartamento" that may have been intended for Isabella Boschetti, the Duke's official mistress. The cycle found its way to Spain and into the possession of Philip II, presumably after the death of Federico II. The Berlin picture passed through famous collections in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries and came into the possession of Philippe of Orléans, the Regent of France, in 1721. His son Louis found the portrayal of Leda offensive, and cut the painting to pieces in an attack of religious frenzy, destroying the head of Leda. The painter Coypel put it together again and filled in the missing pieces. Frederick the Great acquired the picture for his gallery in Sanssouci in 1755. Jacob Schlesinger repainted Leda's head when the painting moved to the Museum am Lustgarten in 1830.

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  • Title: Leda and the Swan
  • Creator: Antonio Allegri da Correggio
  • Date Created: around 1532
  • Physical Dimensions: w191.0 x h152.0 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Style: Italian
  • Copyright Text: Text: © http://www.prestel.com, Prestel Verlag / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Stefan Morét // Photo: © http://www.bpk-images.de, b p k - Photo Agency / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Collection: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist information: Antonio Allegri da Correggio was the leading painter of the Parma school of the Italian Renaissance. Between 1503 and 1505 he was apprenticed to Francesco Bianchi Ferrara of Modena where he became familiar with the classicism of artists like Lorenzo Costa and Francesco Francia, who deeply influenced his first works. His first major commission was the decoration of the ceiling of the private dining salon of the mother-superior in the Convent of St. Paul in Parma in 1519. The dome of the Cathedral of Parma was also adorned by him. Apart from his religious artworks, he created a very prominent set of mythological paintings based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. Correggio prefigured the Rococo art of the 18th century in his use of dynamic composition, illusionistic perspective and dramatic foreshortening. 'Leda with the Swan' (1531-32) is one of his best known works among his famous frescoes in Parma.
  • Artist Place of Death: Corregio, Italy
  • Artist Place of Birth: Correggio, Italy
  • Artist Gender: male
  • Artist Dates: 1489-08-01/1534-03-05

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