This picture tells the story of the young Jupiter. According to classical mythology, his mother hid the infant on Mount Ida in Crete to protect him from his father, Saturn, the King of the Gods. Saturn devoured his children as a prophecy had foretold that one of his own sons would dethrone him. On Crete, Jupiter was suckled by the goat-nymph Amaltheia and looked after by the nymphs Adrasteia and Io, one of whom can be seen preparing honey for him.


  • Title: The Nurture of Jupiter
  • Date: Mid-1630s
  • Physical Dimensions: w1210 x h965 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Notes: The composition derives from an engraving by Bonasone after Giulio Romano of The Education of Jupiter. A preliminary drawing of the central group exists, at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Centre for Visual Arts at Stanford University, with some minor differences in the head of the seated nymph and the posture of the shepherd restraining the nursing goat. A later version of the same subject is at Berlin, Staatliche Museen.Lot 0268 from Sale Catalog F-A1255Artist Name POUSSIN, NICOLAS (French)Lot Title Jupiter nourri par les Coribanthes & Vénus avec les amours, ces deux desseins ˆ la sanguine, sont du mme [N. Poussin].Object Notes sanguineTransaction Inconnue Expert JoullainCommissaire-Pr. ChariotSale Location Paris, FranceSale Date 14 April 1773 - 21 April 1773 (This Lot: 14 April)Seller TournierLugt Number 2157
  • Work Nationality: French
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: Paris, Blondel de Gagny, by 1757; his sale, Paris, Remy, 10 Dec. 1776, lot 94; London, Christie's, Ogilvie sale, 7 Mar. 1778, lot 85 (as ex-Gagny). Bt Campbell; London, Noel Desenfans, 1804-1807: 1804 Insurance List, no. 55; London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807-1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Further Information: "The events around the birth and nurture of the infant Jupiter are described by four ancient Greek and Latin poets: Hesiod, Callimachus, Ovid and Virgil. A prophecy had warned the god Saturn that one of his children would defeat him and rule the universe in his place; one after the other he swallowed all five of the children he had fathered with Rhea, to avoid the prediction. When Jupiter was born, Rhea saved him by feeding Saturn a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes and hiding the newborn baby in a cave on Mount Ida on Crete. Jupiter was brought up by two nymphs and nurtured with goat's milk and honey. Fully grown, Jupiter vanquished his father and forced Saturn to disgorge his brothers and sisters, and shared the rule of the world with his brothers Neptune and Pluto. Poussin sets the scene on top of Mount Ida. A burly shepherd restrains the goat Amalthiea by its horns, while a nymph lifts the goat to allow Jupiter to drink its milk. The second nymph behind them gathers honey from a tree trunk. The detail of the sticky honey pouring out of the tree and the bees flying out of their hive is beautifully rendered. In Rome, in the 1630s, bees would have had a particular significance, as they appeared on the coat-of-arms of the reigning pope, Urban VIII, and of his family, the Barberini. Anthony Blunt (1967) described the Nurture of Jupiter as 'one of Poussin's most exquisite paintings for the delicacy of its formal harmony and the subtlety of its colouring, with its honey and aquamarine tones contrasted with a deep blue in the dress of the nymphs'."
  • Artist: Poussin, Nicolas
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps