The story of Orpheus is told by Ovid in his 'Metamorphoses' (X, 180-182; XI, 1-3). Orpheus had the power to enchant with his music not only all living creatures, but also the trees and the rocks. He should be playing a lyre, not the violin he is shown playing here. The animals around him include at the left, lions, a pelican, an ostrich and a buffalo, and at the right an elephant, a camel and parrots.

Savery, who was a landscape and flower painter, was born in Flanders but as a child moved with his parents to Amsterdam. His landscapes with their meticulous detailing and brilliant colours betray a strong Flemish influence.

Key facts

Artist dates
1576 - 1639
Full title
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on oak
53 x 81.5 cm
Inscription summary
Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit
Bequeathed by S.J. Ainsley, 1874
Inventory number
Location in Gallery