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Mercury

Johan Gregor van der Schardtabout 1570 - 1580

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Mercury was messenger to Jupiter and served as patron of travel, commerce, science, and thievery in Greek and Roman mythology. Johan Gregor van der Schardt shows the young, athletic figure of Mercury, identified by the winged sandals and hat he wears and the caduceus he carries, as he effortlessly returns from flight. Van der Schardt suggested the spontaneity of his landing through the asymmetry of his body: Mercury tilts his head and twists his body so that his right hip comes forward while his right shoulder swings back. Mercury was cast hollow from a wax model. After casting, the hair and parts of the wings and sandals were reworked with chisels to accentuate their crispness. In the late sixteenth century, the Getty Museum's Mercury belonged to Paul Praun, a Nuremberg collector who lived in Bologna and assembled a legendary art collection there.

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