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Il mito di Giove e Io

Giovanni Angelo Canini (Roma, 1608 – Roma, 1666)

Giovanni Angelo Canini
(Rome, 1608 - Rome, 1666)

Jupiter, Io and Juno

Oil on canvas
84 x 100 cm
Framed 106 x 125 cm.

The work is accompanied by expertise by Prof. Giancarlo Sestieri (Rome)
D23-021 € 7.600 Request information

''I thank you for submitting to my attention this qualitative and interesting mythological scene (oil on canvas, 84 x 100 cm) which refers to an episode narrated by Ovid in his Metamorphoses, precisely the myth of Zeus and Io, one of the most fascinating unrequited loves in classical mythology, an episode taken from ancient Latin culture, and taken up again from the Renaissance onwards, such a poignant love story with deep symbolic meanings.

One day Zeus falls madly in love with Io, priestess of Hera, daughter of Inachus king of Argos, and tries to conquer her. But in order to conceal his infidelity from his wife Hera, he envelops the earth with a blanket of clouds, without imagining that she would very quickly discover his trap.

Suspicious, she orders the mists to dissolve, thus managing to find her husband who, to protect himself from his wife's anger, transforms the nymph into a white heifer. This subterfuge, however, did not fool Hera who, once she arrived in the presence of her husband, asked him to give her the animal. Although Zeus knew that giving it to her would mean condemning her to a sad fate, he preferred to avoid his bride's wrath and gave her the heifer.

I have gone on at length in my description of this scene because, although it is a subject often taken up in painting, especially from the second half of the 17th century onwards and in the first half of the following century, it is very rare to come across examples of it that are so meticulously detailed that they make one aware of the succession of events.

Moreover, despite its considerable size, typical of an aristocratic picture gallery, it has a figurative imprint that is clear and well-defined in its outlines, together with a vivid pictorial imprint but with colours that are as if chilled, denoting the presence of an author who was also an expert in engraving, which probably constituted his main activity together with the constant practice of drawing.

Indeed, the painting considered here can be attributed to the hand of Giovanni Angelo Canini (Rome 1608 - 1666).

It is a testimony of certain authorship that could be linked to the series of works made by Canini for Cardinal Camillo Astaldi, a patron who in 1645-50 had commissioned him various pictorial decorations with profane subjects (some signed), including "Stories of Rinaldo and Armida", destined for his Theodoli Castle in Sambuci (near Tivoli), many of which have been lost.

Datable to around 1650, the work reflects Canini's emancipation from the initial prevailing stylistic approach based on Domenichino, whose direct pupil he was until the master's departure for Naples, while remaining linked to his classical orbit, but also affirming his evident interest in the rising affirmations of the Baroque.

The present painting in fact, although realised in a figurative language that was still strictly classicist, nevertheless follows a narrative taste that was already baroque, in the detailed description of events, in which the human figure nevertheless plays a leading role, albeit with clear arboreal elements in the background.

With regard to his painting activity for private use, unfortunately largely lost or obscured by deviant attributions, it is worth remembering that Giovanni Angelo Canini had acquired significant credit with Rome's cultural elite, thanks to his close relationships of esteem with Queen Christina of Sweden, as well as his documented relations with the court of the Savoys. ''

The conservation condition of the work appears to be good.


The painting is sold complete with an attractive frame and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and descriptive iconographic card.
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