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Pieter Lastman, 'Juno discovering Jupiter with Io', 1618

Key facts
Full title Juno discovering Jupiter with Io
Artist Pieter Lastman
Artist dates 1583 - 1633
Date made 1618
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 54.3 × 77.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Julius Weitzner, 1957
Inventory number NG6272
Location Room 24
Collection Main Collection
Juno discovering Jupiter with Io
Pieter Lastman

Stories of the misdeeds of the Greek and Roman gods were popular subjects for paintings in the seventeenth century. Pieter Lastman had been to Rome and seen the innovative paintings of Caravaggio and his followers. He takes on their use of chiaroscuro – the dramatic use of light and shadow – and expressive movement to tell this moment of discovery in the story of Io, taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Jupiter, chief of the Roman gods, seduced Io, a young human woman. Interrupted by Juno, his wife, he hastily changed Io into a cow. Lastman shows Jupiter looking up with startled eyes at the enraged Juno, who is accompanied by the peacocks that are her attribute. Two figures pull back a wine-coloured cloth from the head of the transformed Io. One is Cupid, the boy god of love, his bow at his feet. The other is an allegory of Deceit, appropriately wearing a mask.

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