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Narciso alla fonte

Étienne Allegrain (Parigi, 1644 – 1736)

Étienne Allegrain
(Paris, 1644 - 1736)
Attributable to
(Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book III)

Oil on canvas
111 (h.) x 113 cm.
Framed 126 (h.) x 128 cm.

D23-039 Sold Request information

The protagonist of our fine work, attributable to the Frenchman Étienne Allegrain (Paris, 1644 - 1736), is the young hunter Narcissus, son of Selene, goddess of the moon, and Endymion, famous for his divine beauty that made everyone fall in love with him at first sight, but which also became the cause of his downfall.

His story, narrated by Ovid in the third book of his Metamorphoses, is one of the most successful ancient myths in history, so much so that it has fascinated and fascinated many artists.

We see him portrayed with long blond hair, dressed in a short red tunic with golden details and precious woven sandals, together with his greyhound during a break from hunting, drinking at the edge of a fountain, of which the detail of the classical sculpture on the right, depicting his mother Selene, is interesting.

When the young man leans out he sees her image reflected in the water and, not realising that this image was nothing more than a projection of himself, falls madly in love with that beautiful face.

Ovid writes: "Behold the eyes that look like stars, behold the hair worthy of Bacchus and Apollo, and the smooth cheeks, the scarlet lips, the ivory neck, the whiteness of the face suffused with blush... Oh how many useless kisses he gave to the deceiving fountain!... He did not know what he was seeing, but he was burning for that image...".

The days went by inexorably and Narcissus did nothing but contemplate that stupendous image, forgetting even to eat and drink, until he was slowly consumed by this unattainable love and transformed into a flower, equally beautiful, that took his name and ended up becoming the flower symbol of the myth of beauty.

From a purely stylistic point of view, the work shows a solemn classical approach, combined with compositional details that denote a style steeped in an Italo-French classicist taste, from which the influence of Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) clearly emerges, fully corresponding to the painting style of the Parisian painter Etienne Allegrain.

The structure of the painting of deep horizons and the suggestion of classical sculptures and architecture, also accompanied by the attention to certain effects of the clouds in the background, are details that confirm this reference.


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

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