Cross-curricular ideas: Creative approaches
In the Roman poet Ovid's epic poem 'Metamorphoses', Actaeon has mistakenly stumbled on a wooded cave which turns out to be Diana's secret bathing place. How secret do you think the bathing place in the painting looks?
Think about our modern world. What sort of places would be considered to be private or secret, and which public? What sort of activities do we reserve for each place?
Now transpose the story of Diana and Actaeon to our world today. Where would you choose to set it? Think about what it does to the story when you change the setting.
Actaeon has stumbled on the bathing place and caught Diana and her nymphs unawares.
How does the painting show the surprise of both parties? Some of the nymphs seem more concerned than others.
Now consider another 'surprised' painting in the National Gallery's collection – Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus. Compare how both artists have depicted a 'penny dropping' moment. Look at the hand gestures, expressions and body language of the people in each painting.
Imagine you were a news reporter secretly present at the scene. Compose a text message you would send to your boss describing what is happening.