Venice, 1613 – Vicenza, 1678
Leander and the Nereids
oil on canvas, cm 90×112
This painting is the work of Giulio Carpioni, one of the most representative Baroque painters in Veneto. He studied under Padovanino in Venice and, after the usual educational period in Rome, was also active in Vicenza, where he died in 1678. The sensual exhibition of the nudes, the lively composition and the expressive charge that pervades the entire painting are typical of the painter’s production. Indeed, this work is one of a series of canvases on the same subject, depicted several times by Carpioni. It is a widespread mythological scene of Leander and the Nereids, representing a lost love. Every night, Leander crossed the sea to visit his beloved Hero, but one night he was drowned in a storm and the sea nymphs carried him in their arms. Overcome by grief, Hero joined him in his tragic fate.
There is a similar composition in Dijon, in the Musée Magnin, one in the Donzelli collection in Florence, one in the Szepmuveszeti Museum in Budapest and, lastly, another in the Museo Civico in Padua, which also houses a preparatory drawing. In addition to these examples, published in the monograph on the painter, we can also add the ones in the Fototeca di Federico Zeri at the University of Bologna (inv. 56918 and 56857) and obviously also our own piece, which the scholar had already catalogued and rightly attributed to Carpioni (inv. 56908).
“Catalogo Fototeca Fondazione Federico Zeri”, entry no. 56908.