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Jupiter and Semele
Possibly by Jacopo Tintoretto
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The story of Jupiter and Semele is told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The god Jupiter takes the mortal woman Semele as his mistress and makes her pregnant. When Jupiter’s wife, the goddess Juno, finds out, she disguises herself and suggests to Semele that her lover may not really be Jupiter. She tells Semele to ask Jupiter to come to her in the form he has when he visits Juno. Jupiter arrives as a mighty thunderbolt armed with fire and Semele is burned to ashes.

Jupiter swoops down ringed by stormy grey clouds. Golden light burns behind him and flames spurt from his hands and feet. An eagle – a form Jupiter takes for his seductions – flies with him towards Semele, who lies waiting, naked on her bed.

This picture was probably part of a series of paintings originally incorporated into a piece of furniture such as a bed.

Key facts
Artist Possibly by Jacopo Tintoretto
Artist dates about 1518 - 1594
Full title Jupiter and Semele
Date made about 1545
Medium and support Oil on spruce
Dimensions 22.7 x 65.4 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1896
Inventory number NG1476
Location in Gallery Not on display
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