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Jupiter and Callisto
  • Date: 1769
  • Object Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 160 x 129 cm, oval
  • Inv: P446
  • Location: Oval Drawing Room
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Further Reading
  • Ovid’s Metamorphoses (II, 417-40) tells the story of the moon-goddess Diana’s favourite nymph Callisto, who was seduced by Jupiter in the form of the goddess herself. When Callisto’s pregnancy was discovered, Diana, who expected her followers to be as chaste as herself, punished Callisto by changing her into a bear and setting the dogs upon her. Callisto and her son Arcas were saved by Jupiter who transformed them into the constellations, the Great and the Little Bear.

    Boucher treated the theme particularly often. It appealed to the interest of his time and his patrons in the ambiguity of gender roles and ideals. There are several closely related versions from the 1760s, one of which (Fontainebleau) was used as the basis for a Gobelins tapestry design. The present picture was painted the year before Boucher’s death and is typical of the more solid compositions of his last years.