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Possibly by Marten Rijckaert, Landscape with Satyrs

Key facts
Full title Landscape with Satyrs
Artist Possibly by Marten Rijckaert
Artist dates 1587 - 1631
Date made about 1626
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 10.3 × 20.4 cm
Acquisition credit Richard W. Cooper Bequest, 1892
Inventory number NG1353
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Landscape with Satyrs
Possibly by Marten Rijckaert

This tiny jewel of a picture was made at a time when landscape painting was beginning to be appreciated as an important genre of its own. While no longer a poor relation of pictures of great historical events or of stories from the Bible or Greek myths and legend, it was common for landscape painters of Rijckaert’s era to include figures from these myths to give their paintings gravitas.

The artist chooses satyrs as his mythical creatures, demigods of the woods and forests. They're half goat and half man, with hooves and shaggy legs, horns and hairy ears. Satyrs were followers of Dionysus, the god of wine, and were fertility symbols, notorious for drunkenness, lust, chasing nymphs and loud partying. The artist shows these rumbustious characters in a quieter moment, staggering home from their revels. He keeps them no bigger than a bee’s wing, so as to give the landscape full scope.

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