Laurent de La Hyre

Mercury Takes Bacchus to be Brought up by Nymphs

Mercury Takes Bacchus to be Brought up by Nymphs
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Author: Laurent de La Hyre
Painting, Oil on canvas, 112.5x135sm
Origin: France, 1638

Bacchus, the god of wine-growing and wine-making, was the son of Zeus, the god of thunder, and Semele, queen of Thebes. Semele wanted to see Zeus in his true character, and when he appeared to her in a flash of lightning, she was consumed by the flame after prematurely giving birth to a son. Zeus sewed the infant up in his thigh and after some time Bacchus was born a second time. Then Zeus commanded Mercury, the envoy of the gods, to take the baby to the nymphs for refuge, so that they might nurture and bring him up. It is precisely this moment which the artist has captured.

La Hyre's work was noticeably influenced by French Classicism, as is evidenced in the clarity and balance of the composition, the distinct organization of space and the harmony of volumes. In addition, the soft modeling of the figures, warm golden illumination and velvety shades of indicate the influence of Venetian painting. One may say that the different legacies of two great schools of painting are combined in La Hyre's work to form an inimitable individual style which is notable for easy and unconstrained brushstrokes and a light, joyful palette.

Personage: Bacchus
Style: Classicism
Source of entry: Collection of baron L.A. Crozat de Tierra, Paris, 1772
Theme: Religion and Mythology of Antiquity

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