In The stars

This gallery includes ten pieces of artwork representing constellations, which stories come from Greek mythology. There are many mediums used in these works, including paintings, sculptures, and pottery. Many of the myths behind these constellations are different sides if the same story. These stories can be seen in the various artworks included in this gallery.

Created in 1909 by French sculptor Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, this sculpture is made from white plaster and stands at approximately 91 inches tall. It spans a width of about 96 inches. This sculpture is an interpretation of mythological Greek hero, Hercules. The artist has chosen to depict the sixth of Hercules’ twelve tasks. Thousands of years ago, the Greek people believed that a grouping of stars represented Hercules. This constellation can be seen in the northern sky during spring.
In 1639, Peter Paul Rubens painted Hercules defeating the Nemean lion in oil on a panel. The painting is 39.2 cm by 23 cm and rests at the Harvard Arts Museum. Illustrating one of the twelve tasks of Hercules, this painting shows one of the many stories behind the constellation Leo. This collection of stars has been seen in the shape of a lion by many civilizations of the past, including the Greeks who believed it represented the Nemean lion.
Marco Marchetti created this oil painting during 1555-56. The painting shows the hero Hercules defeating the many headed Lernaean Hydra during one of his twelve tasks. In the past, it was believed by the Greeks that the serpent like constellation represented this Hydra. This constellation is one of the largest in the sky.
The assistants of artist Guido Reni painted this oil painting of princess Europa with a white bull in the 17th century. The Greek myth states that Zeus, the king of gods, became enamored with Europa as he saw her collecting flowers by the sea. Zeus took the appearance of a white bull to approach the princess, but when she climbed on his back he raced over the sea to seduce her. The constellation Taurus is said to be the representation of the bull in this myth.
Bertel Thorvaldsen created this sculpture in 1817 about the story of Ganymede. This Greek myth says that Zeus changed into an eagle to abduct young Ganymede to be the cupbearer to the gods. The Aquila constellation represents this eagle. It is one of the many constellations to make up one of the oldest groups of constellations, Aquarius.
In 1852, Eugene Delacroix created the oil painting of Andromeda. The subject relates to the Greek myth in which Andromeda’s mother insults the water nymphs by stating she and her daughter are more beautiful. As penance, the king and queen were told to chain Andromeda to a cliff as a sacrifice for the monster Cletus. After being saved by Perseus, her image was put in the stars a the constellation Andromeda.
This coin from approximately 1815 displays a winged horse called Pegasus. It is made from bronze and is fairly large for a coin at 3 9/16 diameter. The Greek myth of Pegasus states that this horse came from Medusa when she was slain by Perseus. It is also said that Pegasus carries Zeus’s thunderbolts. This winged horse can be seen in the night sky as the constellation Pegasus.
This is a photograph of the Statue of Perseus at the Vatican Museum. The statue shows Perseus holding the gorgon Medusa’s head aloft in victory by her hair made of snakes. The myth of Perseus’ slaying of Medusa without tuning into stone made him a hero. The constellation named after him shows Perseus in much of the same pose in the sky as the sculpture in the picture.
Antonio Allegri da Correggio painted several oil paintings on the subject of the romantic affairs of the god Zeus. This particular painting focuses on Zeus’ affections for Leda, the queen of Sparta. There are many myths surrounding this affair but this painting depicts the version where Zeus approaches Leda in the guise of a swan to seduce her. The constellation Cygnus depicts a swan in flight, the story of Leda is one of many stories behind this group of stars.
This small terracotta wine jug was made around 360 B.C. It is decorated with the images of the goddess Kallisto, her son Arkas, and the god Hermes. The myth states that Zeus seduced Kallisto who than birthed a son, Arkas. The goddess Hera, Zeus’s wife, than turned her into a bear out of jealousy. This can be seen on the jug as Kallisto has been shown with fur and paws. The god Hermes takes Arkas away to be raised by the goddess Maia, which you can see on the other side of the jug. The myth reunites Kallisto and Arkas in the sky as either the constellations Ursa Major and Bootes, or the Big and Little Dippers.
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.