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Claude, Landscape with Cephalus and Procris reunited by Diana

Key facts
Full title Landscape with Cephalus and Procris reunited by Diana
Artist Claude
Artist dates 1604/5? - 1682
Date made 1645
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 101.5 × 132.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1824
Inventory number NG2
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Landscape with Cephalus and Procris reunited by Diana

Diana, goddess of hunting, stands between the huntsman Cephalus and his wife Procris. Procris gives her husband a spear, carried here by an attendant, and a magic dog. The painting is loosely based on a story in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The title suggests that the pair are being reunited after a falling out caused by Procris’s jealousy, but Ovid does not mention Diana being at the reunion. Later in the story, Cephalus accidentally kills Procris with his spear. Perhaps Claude intended his painting to show an alternative happier ending, where Procris is brought back to life.

The composition is inspired by Claude’s trips to the countryside near Rome. Large trees in the centre, painted with precise brushstrokes, frame the figures. The warm, pink sky highlights the subtle green tones and the contrast between light and shade on the foliage and foreground landscape. The reflections of the herdsman and several animals in the pond’s surface are painted with meticulous attention to detail.

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