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The Cave of Eternity
Luca Giordano

The serpent biting its tail symbolises Eternity. The crowned figure of Janus holds the fleece from which the Three Fates draw out the thread of life. The hooded figure is Demagorgon who receives gifts from Nature, from whose breasts pours forth milk. Seated at the entrance to the cave is the winged figure of Chronos, who represents Time.

This painting is one of a group of 10 'modelli', or elaborated oil studies, made in preparation for the fresco projects that Giordano created for the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence. This painting is connected with the ceiling of the Galleria.

Key facts
Artist Luca Giordano
Artist dates 1634 - 1705
Full title The Cave of Eternity
Group Modelli for the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence
Date made early 1680s
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 73.1 x 87.5 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Trustees of Sir Denis Mahon's Charitable Trust through the Art Fund, 2013
Inventory number NG6637
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Modelli for the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

This group of 10 modelli, or elaborated oil studies, was made in preparation for the fresco projects that Giordano undertook in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence between 1682 and 1685.

Nine are associated with the ceiling of the Galleria and one, the 'Allegory of Divine Wisdom', is for the ceiling of the adjacent Library.