Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery
March 9 through May 30, 2010
The hero of this painting is the greedy infant, seated between the legs of the nymph in blue, suckling a goat whose horns are held down by a brawny shepherd with husks of corn in his hair. Poussin is giving pictorial form to an origin myth recounted by several classical authors. Saturn had swallowed five of his children to avert a prophecy that one of them would overthrow him and rule the world. His wife, Rhea, saved their sixth child, Jupiter, by confiding him to the nymphs and shepherds on Mount Ida in Crete, where he was nourished with milk from the she-goat Amalthea and fed with sweet honey.
For his central group, Poussin turned to an engraving after a composition by the sixteenth-century Roman painter Giulio Romano. He may have been inspired by ancient Roman relief sculpture for the figure of the beautiful and stately nymph Melissa, who, surrounded by bees, gathers honey from the trunk of the tree. The golden midday light and atmospheric landscape of this serenely balanced composition evoke the safety and seclusion of Jupiter’s hideaway.
The exhibition, in the Frick’s Oval Room and Garden Court, is co-organized by Colin B. Bailey, Associate Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator at the Frick, and Xavier F. Salomon, Arturo and Holly Melosi Chief Curator at Dulwich. A fully illustrated catalogue, written by Dr. Salomon, features an essay on the origins of the collection at Dulwich as well as comprehensive entries on the nine works.
Principal funding for the exhibition is provided by Christie's and Melvin R. Seiden.
Additional support is generously provided by John and Constance Birkelund, Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Eberstadt, Fiduciary Trust Company International, Barbara G. Fleischman, Francis Finlay, and Hester Diamond.
The accompanying catalogue is made possible by Jon and Barbara Landau.
This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.