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Leda and the Swan
Style of Pier Francesco Mola

The story of Leda and the Swan is a Greek myth which exists in various versions. Leda, the wife of the king of Sparta, was loved by the god Jupiter (Zeus in Greek) who transformed himself into a swan and seduced her. As a consequence she gave birth to the twins Castor and Pollux, who were hatched from eggs.

This small erotic painting was clearly intended for a patron’s private enjoyment. The subject had been popular in art since the Renaissance: a painting of the subject by Michelangelo, of which Leda and the Swan (also in the Gallery’s collection) is a copy, was widely known through a sixteenth-century engraving.

The poor condition of the picture makes it difficult to be certain that Mola painted it, but its style is close to that of his mature works.

Key facts
Artist Style of Pier Francesco Mola
Artist dates 1612 - 1666
Full title Leda and the Swan
Date made probably 1650-66
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 38.6 x 50.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lord Farnborough, 1838
Inventory number NG151.1
Location in Gallery Not on display
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