Il Dio Apollo con Cupido
Jean Boulanger (Troyes 1606 – Modena 1660)
(Troyes 1606 - Modena 1660)
The God Apollo with Cupid
Oil on canvas
100 x 75 cm.
Framed 113 x 89 cm.
D23-063 Sold Request information
The foreground is dominated by the figure of the Greek god Apollo, crowned with laurel, a plant symbolising victory, while holding his lyre, one of his attributes, in his hands and the quiver full of arrows on his shoulder, addressing the small Cupid fluttering behind him.
The subject could be inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses (I, 452-467), when Apollo, after killing Python, the monstrous serpent who ruled the world in chaos, boasted to Cupid of his gifts and mocked him for carrying a bow and arrow, but considered him unfit for the use of those weapons.
Cupid, vindictive as any deity, did not wait long to taste his revenge: he struck Apollo with a golden dart, the noble metal that kindled eternal love, and the nymph Daphne with an identical but leaden dart, which would have aroused in her repulsion for love.
He thus condemned the god, unaccustomed to amorous refusals, to pursue the nymph in vain, without ever being able to conquer her despite the ostentation of her gifts. When Apollo finally managed to catch her, Daphne began to change her features, transforming herself into a laurel plant, the same laurel that would later encircle Apollo's head, thus recalling his impossible love.
Cupid is portrayed here with a lit torch raised to the sky, alluding to the disruptive force of love, capable of subjugating not only man but even a God.
The painting, which can be dated around the middle of the 17th century, bears a traditional attribution to the painter Jean Boulanger (Troyes c. 1606 - Modena 1660), which, by virtue of the close stylistic similarities with other works by the painter, we feel we can confirm or circumscribe its execution, if not to the painter, to an author from his immediate circle. Born in Troyes in 1606, Jean Boulanger moved to Italy in his thirties and was welcomed into the workshop of Guido Reni (1575-1642), quickly becoming one of the great master's most trusted and promising pupils. Thanks to Reni's interest and his workshop's close contacts with the Este court, Boulanger was able to move to Modena around 1638, remaining there for most of his career.
Active at the Este court of Francesco I from 1638, Boulanger found his greatest commission in the frescoes of the Palazzo Ducale in Sassuolo, at the head of a large team of collaborators such as his nephew Olivier Dauphin, Pier Francesco Cittadini and others.
It must be said that, although most of the Sassuolo canvases are now dispersed, our work takes up both the choice of theme, mythological in character, and the style, which we can nevertheless find perfectly in the marvellous frescoed ceilings.
The canvas presented here in fact reveals a soft drafting, characterised by an intense luminosity that evokes on the one hand the mature works of Reni, but also suggestions of Veneto colourism, perceptible in the rosy hues and fast brushstrokes, with the figures recalling the gods and heroes painted in the Camera delle Virtù Estensi and those in the Bacchus Gallery.
The canvas is in good conservation condition.
The painting is sold complete with an attractive gilded frame and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and descriptive iconographic card.
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