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Workshop of Giulio Romano, The Infancy of Jupiter

Key facts
Full title The Infant Jupiter guarded by the Corybantes on the Island of Crete
Artist Workshop of Giulio Romano
Artist dates 1499? - 1546
Date made mid 1530s
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 106.4 × 175.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1859
Inventory number NG624
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Infancy of Jupiter
Workshop of Giulio Romano

In Greek and Roman mythology, the god Saturn was warned that one of his offspring would overthrow him, so he ate his children at birth. To protect their son, his wife Ops took the infant Jupiter to the island of Crete to be raised by the Corybantes, who used the rhythm of their dancing and the clashing of their cymbals to disguise the baby’s cries so he would not be discovered by Saturn.

This panel was one of 12 created by Giulio Romano and his workshop for the Sala di Giove (Room of Jupiter) when Duke Federigo Gonzaga was redecorating the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua in the 1530s. The focus on Jupiter’s youth was probably intended to refer to Federigo’s son and heir, Francesco, who was five years old at the time. This panel once belonged to King Charles I and four of the paintings in the series are in the Royal Collection, London.

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