Sunday, November 20, 2011

Don't mess with the Gods

One of my favourite myths is that of Apollo and Daphne. The one about a daughter of the river god, Penneus, who never wants to marry. She is pursued by Apollo, who has been shot by Cupid thus falling in love instantly with D. She has been shot by Cupid with an arrow which means she will hate whoever she sees next, poor old Apollo. (Keep up at the back there). He tries to force himself upon her, she prays to her father who changes her into a laurel, in fact a bay tree. From thenceforth Apollo wears a laurel wreath. Some might say this wasn't much of a good turn for Daphne. On the other hand, the leaves of bay never rot and stay glossy, fresh and green (unless we have a fierce winter). It's a strange story, but what I love is the various images it has inspired. And here are just a few...

Pollaiuolo c1470-80, National Gallery

Veronese c1560-65, San Diego Museum of Art

Mosaic in Antioch

Poussin, 1625, Alte Pinakothek, Munich

There are many, many more. Strangely, I could find few contemporary works, but there is this illustrative drawing which is fun for its spontaneity. It is by Paul Thomas

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