Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem
HAARLEM 1562 - 1638
PARIS AND OENONE
signed with the monogram and dated lower left: CvH [in ligature].1616.
oil on canvas
70 1/4 by 69 1/4 in.; 178.4 by 175.8 cm.
Oenone was a mountain nymph on Mount Ida in Phrygia, a mountain associated with the Mother Goddess Cybele, alternatively Rhea. Her father was Cebren, a river-god. Her very name links her to the gift of wine.
Paris, son of the king Priam and the queen Hecuba, fell in love with Oenone when he was a shepherd on the slopes of Mount Ida, having been exposed in infancy (owing to a prophecy that he would be the means of the destruction of the city of Troy) but rescued by the herdsman Agelaus. The couple married, and Oenone gave birth to a son, Corythus.
When Paris later abandoned her to return to Troy and sail across the Aegean to kidnap Helen, the queen of Sparta, Oenone predicted the Trojan War. Out of revenge for Paris' betrayal, she sent Corythus to guide the Greeks to Troy. Another version has it that she used her son to drive a rift between Paris and Helen, but Paris, not recognizing his own son, killed him.
In this painting. In 1594, the English playwright Thomas Heywood, published an epic poem about Paris and Oenone, so it would have been a subject well known to an educated seventeenth-century audience. Cornelis himself painted another version in about 1600, which is known primarily from an engraving in reverse by Jan Saenredam. In the painting here Oenone is in a more upright position and the figures are more clearly turned toward one another. In front of them the artist has placed a small still life of fruits, and he has added several figures to the scene. At the right is a young boy with a kid, and it is unclear whether the child is just a herder or Corythus, their son. At the left is a large black and white hound.
Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem (1562 – 11 November 1638), Dutch Golden Age painter and draughtsman, was one of the leading Northern Mannerist artists in the Netherlands, and an important forerunner of Frans Hals as a portraitist.
Born in Haarlem, Cornelis Corneliszoon was a pupil of Pieter Pietersz in Haarlem, and later Gillis Coignet in Antwerp. He is known among art historians as a member of the Haarlem Mannerists. He painted mainly portraits as well as mythological and Biblical subjects. Initially Cornelis Cornelisz painted large-size, highly stylized works with Italianate nudes in twisted poses with a grotesque, unnatural anatomy. Later, his style changed to one based on the Netherlandish realist tradition.
When his parents fled Haarlem in 1568, as the Spanish army laid siege to the city during the Eighty Years' War, Cornelis Cornelisz remained behind and was raised by the painter Pieter Pietersz the Elder, his first teacher. Later, in 1580-1581 Corneliszoon studied in Rouen, France, and Antwerp (with Coignet), before returning to Haarlem, where he stayed the rest of his life. He became a respected member of the community and in 1583 he received his first official commission from the city of Haarlem, a militia company portrait, the Banquet of the Haarlem Civic Guard. He later became city painter of Haarlem and received numerous official commissions. He married Maritgen Arentsdr Deyman, the daughter of a mayor of Haarlem, sometime before 1603. In 1605, he inherited a third of his wealthy father-in-law's estate.