Sunday, January 26, 2014

Painting of the Day: “Diana and Calisto,” Richard Wilson, 1757

Diana and Calisto
Richard Wilson, 1757
The Lady Lever Art Gallery

Painter Richard Wilson adapted the ideals of French Seventeenth Century landscape painting into his canvases which were celebrated for their majesty and tranquility. Here, Wilson depicts a landscape of Lake Nemi in Italy, not far from Rome. Lake Nemi long had an association with the goddess Diana. Diana was said to have seen her reflection in the still lake, and a temple was erected at the spot in her honor.

Wilson alludes to the goddess by including a small figural scene of Diana casting her maid, Calisto, out after discovering the young woman’s pregnancy by Zeus. The figural scene is secondary to the grandeur of the landscape which was applauded wildly when exhibited.

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