Jupiter and Callisto
  • TitleJupiter and Callisto
  • Technique/ MaterialOil on canvas
  • DimensionsDimensions: (h x b) 165 x 193 cm
    Frame: (h x b x dj) 179 x 206 x 10 cm
  • DatingSigned 1655
  • Artist/Maker Artist: Cesar Boetius van Everdingen, Dutch, born 1617, dead 1678
  • CategoryPaintings, Paintings
  • Inventory No.NM 1157
  • AcquisitionPurchase 1872
  • ExhibitedNationalmuseum, Room 1621 17th century
  • Description
    Images and media

    Caesar van Everdingen was one of the most frequently employed history painters in Holland, receiving many important public commissions: he painted the organ shutters in Alkmaar's Grote Kerk and executed several works for the Oranjezaal in the Huis ten Bosch in The Hague. From 1655 to 1656 he was the leader of the Haarlem guild. Jupiter and Callisto is an outstanding example of the cool classicism that became popular in Haarlem and Amsterdam in the mid-17th century. Jupiter is presented here as the crowned king of the gods, with the eagle as his attribute. The woman represents the nymph Callisto, Diana's favourite. After a day's hunting, when she was resting in a valley, Jupiter — disguised as Diana — approached the shy nymph and addressed her, saying: "Dearest of all my friends, where have you been hunting?" She rose from the ground and began to tell of her hunting adventures. Jupiter seized the opportunity to embrace and rape her, making her pregnant. Although Callisto had resisted with all her strength, Diana was so enraged on hearing of the incident that she turned the nymph into a bear and set the dogs onto her. In the painting, Jupiter is not disguised as he is in the story. The only sign of disguise is Diana's mask at the top left. The mask in itself is a symbol of dissimulation and treachery. The small putto who is holding it makes an obscene gesture with the other hand. The artist is playing with the viewer. The idea is that we are to recognize Jupiter and become aware of his intentions, while Callisto still suspects nothing. Only her dog is wary, sniffing the air.