The Triumph of Galatea by a Follower of Felice Giani

  • This triumphant painting tells the tale of the nymph Galatea from Ovid's Metamorphoses
  • The oil on canvas is after an engraving of the same subject by the Italian master Felice Giani
  • It also recalls the 1512 fresco composed by Raphael for Agostino Chigi's villa
  • An extraordinary example of early 19th-century Neoclassicism, it celebrates the triumph of love
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-4998

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Follower of Felice Giani
19th century | Italian

The Triumph of Galatea

Oil on canvas

An extraordinary example of early 19th-century Neoclassicism, this triumphant painting tells the tale of the nymph Galatea from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Masterfully realized, the oil is after an engraving of the same subject by the Italian master Felice Giani, an example of which can be found in the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum (New York). It also recalls the 1512 fresco composed by the Italian master Raphael for Agostino Chigi's villa, now Villa Farnesina in Rome, which is considered one of the artist's finest renderings of the female form.

Galatea, whose name means "the one who has white skin, like milk," was among the marine mythological figures who were believed to protect sailors from the dangers of the sea. According to Ovid's retelling of her story, Galatea was in love with the mortal shepherd Acis, but the Cyclops Polyphemus coveted her for himself. Unable to win her, Polyphemus grew jealous of Acis and killed him by bludgeoning him with a rock. As legend tells, Galatea turned Acis' blood into a spring in her grief, creating the Acis River near Mount Etna in Sicily. 

The present composition captures a moment later in the life of Galatea at the moment of her apotheosis, when she transformed into a being of the most divine level. She stands triumphant upon a shell chariot that is pulled by a pair of dolphins. Cupid, the god of love, leads the team, serving as testament to the true love she held for Acis, while other nymphs and tritons surround her in celebration of her metamorphosis. A view of Polyphemus with his flute can be glimpsed in the upper left, recalling the tragedy of her loss; however, the scene remains one of triumph: the triumph of love.

Canvas: 15 1/8" high x 21 5/8" wide
Frame: 20 1/8" high x 26 3/8" wide
The Triumph of Galatea  by a Follower of Felice Giani
Period: 1816-1918
Origin: Italy
Type: Paintings
Depth: 2.38 Inches
Width: 26.38 Inches
Height: 20.13 Inches
Style: Neoclassicism
Canvas Width: 21.625 Inches
Canvas Height: 15.125 Inches

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