Guido Reni - Hippomenes and Atalanta [1618-19] by Gandalf’s Gallery on Flickr.
Inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphosis, this key work in Reni’s oeuvre tells the story of Atalanta, the daughter of Schoeneus, King of Arcadia. Seeking a husband, she offered to marry anyone able to outrun her in a race. Suitors unable to do so, however, would be killed. Hippomenes was enamoured of her and thus accepted the challenge with the help of Venus, who gave him three golden apples. He was supposed to drop these, one at a time, in order to distract Atalanta and thus win the race.
This work sums up the classical interpretation of ideal, elegantly proportioned beauty that was characteristic of Roman and Bolognese classicism. The colours are cold and artificial, and only the dark, neutral background recall Reni’s initial training in Caravaggio’s style. This painting belonged to the Marquis of Serra and was acquired in 1664 by the Count of Peñaranda for King Felipe IV (1605-1665). Another version, of lesser quality, is at the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples.
[Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid - Oil on canvas, 206 x 297 cm]