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Mercury piping to Argus
Johann Carl Loth

Io was loved by Jupiter who transformed her into a heifer (on left) to protect her from Juno's jealousy. Juno, discovering the heifer's identity, had it guarded by Argus Panoptes ('many-eyed Argus'). Mercury was sent by Jupiter to kill Argus, which he did, after piping him to sleep. (Ovid, 'Metamorphoses').

This is among Loth's earliest Venetian works. The darkened sky as Mercury begins to pipe makes it a dramatic and sinister depiction of the subject.

Key facts
Artist Johann Carl Loth
Artist dates 1632 - 1698
Full title Mercury piping to Argus
Date made 1655-60
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 116.9 x 99.7 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by A.G.H. Ward, through the Art Fund, 1920
Inventory number NG3571
Location in Gallery Not on display
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