Bringing mythology into the real world, jason van horn

The pieces displayed here in this gallery were chosen based on their mythological roots and the space they occupy. The spaces they occupy were carefully detailed to help bring the characters to life in what seems to be a real space. Some pieces in this gallery are better at it than others but all evoke a since of peeking in on the gods themselves as if catching a glimpse of their life as it happens.

Leda and the Swan, Antonio Allegri da Correggio, around 1532, From the collection of: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
This scene depicts a selection from Ovid’s metamorphosis about Leda and the Swan where the swan represents Zeus and Leda, a goddess who was seduced by Zeus. I chose this because of the illusionary perspective giving space for our mythological characters to live in and occupy. However, this piece is unique because the horizon curves almost as if you’re looking to the ends of the earth, but you will notice that the mountains and trees of the background are not that far away. It is not clear why the artist chose to depict the background in this manner.
Susanna and the Elders, Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto, 1555/1556, From the collection of: Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
This scene depicts Susana who is taking a bath in the orchard while her husbands two friends lie in wait to watch her. The scene is unique because the viewer is in on the plot happening while the subject is not. This scene uses perspective to create a deep amount of space in the which we can also see a wall for the orchard and wild life wandering around. The background seems like it could go on forever as you can see a forest in the back of the archway. There’s even a faint outline of what might be a group of buildings in the upper left corner.
Tepidarium, Théodore Chassériau, 1853, From the collection of: Musée d’Orsay, Paris
This is a depiction of the baths of Venus Genitrix from Pompeii which, at the time of this painting was thought to be a myth. In this painting linear perspective is clearly used to give the bath house a very clear distinguished space. While the figures in this scene are not depicting mythological characters, the space and custom they are portraying is mythological. At the time there was a fascination of the lifestyle of the Grecians and their famed erotic lifestyle.
Mythological Scene, Dosso Dossi (Giovanni di Niccolò de Lutero), about 1524, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
This painting depicts Pan, a satyr on the right side looking over a sleeping nude woman. The precise meaning of this piece isn’t know but general themes of love are indicated by the cupid type figures in the cloud and Pan who is the Greek god of lust. In this painting significant effort went into showing a deep background giving us the feeling that this is taking place in our world off on a hill. The town and lake are clearly visible also giving a sense of realism and not illusionary space.
Venus with a Mirror, Titian, c. 1555, From the collection of: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
This painting depicts Venus of old mythology but in a modern flavor. She has some more distinct facial features and slight humanist qualities depicting a slightly fuller body and clothing. The positioning of the hand even evokes the style of statue of a Venus statue in Rome. This space is interesting because while there isn’t any background beyond that of the two cupids, it’s evident that she’s sitting on the edge of a bed in what appears to be a bedroom. The space is intimate with the drapery and clothing lining the bed to match the act of Venus admiring her body in the mirror.
A Faun and His Family with a Slain Lion, Lucas Cranach the Elder, about 1526, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
This painting depicts a male faun and possibly his wife and children after he’s been hunting for food. The precise meaning of this art is not known. The topic though does dwell on the idea of mythical creatures of the forest and possible family life. To give weight to their existence we can see in the deep background a city sitting on the lake. The perspective of this space is not a clearly defined line but does very good job pulling your through to the center of the painting.
Apollo and Diana, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1525 - 1527, From the collection of: Royal Collection Trust, UK
This is a depiction of Apollo and his sister Diana. Though no apparent theme is present in this piece, is is common to depict the two together because Apollo represents morale character, while his sister Diana, goddess of the moon represents chastity among other things. As with other Cranach paintings, a detailed and somewhat distant city is in the background giving space to our scene and the illusion that this takes place in the real world.
The Birth of Venus, Nicolas Poussin, French, 1594 - 1665, 1635 or 1636, From the collection of: Philadelphia Museum of Art
This painting entitled “The Birth of Venus” embodies many characters and possible myths. Venus is supposedly depicted in the center, though that is debated. This piece is a good example of illusionary perspective as the background doesn’t depict a specific place or setting. It could be part of our world or some heavenly setting.
Danaë and the Shower of Gold, Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, 1787, From the collection of: Nationalmuseum Sweden
This painting of Danae depicts her receiving a visit from Jupiter as a shower of gold which made her pregnant. This sense of space is much like Venus looking in the mirror in that it’s an intimate setting and reveals nothing about the background, yet you feel like you’re in a room with just her. Though the perspective is small we can see that cupid is behind her while his bow lies on the bed jutting toward the background.
Cymon and Iphigenia, Benjamin West, 1738–1820, American, active in Britain (from 1763), ca. 1766, From the collection of: Yale Center for British Art
This depicts Iphigenia sleeping in the woods when Cymon discovers her and is so inspired by her beauty that he changes his behavior for the good. We can see even more mythological association by recognizing the cupids hiding in the trees behind her. The space is well defined as we feel that this is in our world and could just be outside the castle walls as is depicted in the background.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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