Thursday, November 21, 2019

01 Painting, Olympian deities, by the Old Masters, with footnotes #37

Attributed to Francesco Cairo, (Milan 1607-1674) 
Hercules and Omphale 
Oil on canvas
41 3/8 X 33 1/4 IN.
Private collection

Hercules and Omphale. Wishing to expiate the murder of one of his friends, Hercules consulted the oracle of Apollo, who advised him to enter the service of Omphale, Queen of Lydia. Although Hercules was the son of Zeus and was famed for his invincible strength, he submitted to the tasks the queen devised for him to expiate his crime. Omphale fell in love with Hercules for his strength and physical beauty, and the couple married. This tale, found in both Greek and Roman mythology, is told with a number of variations. It proved a great source of inspiration for French and Italian Mannerist painters, as well as the Venetian artists who influenced Lemoyne. François Boucher also painted a version of the same love scene. More on Hercules and Omphale

Francesco Cairo (26 September 1607 – 27 July 1665) was an Italian Baroque painter active in Lombardy and Piedmont. He was born and died in Milan. It is not known where he obtained his early training though he is strongly influenced by the circle of il Morazzone, in works such as the Saint Teresa altarpiece in the Certosa di Pavia.

In 1633, Cairo moved to Turin to work as a court painter. Between 1637–1638, Cairo travelled to Rome, where he encounters the works of Pietro da Cortona, Guido Reni and of the Caravaggisti. He returns to Lombardy to complete altarpieces for the Certosa of Pavia and a church at Casalpusterlengo. Between 1646–1649, he returns to Turin, and paints an altarpiece for Savigliano and the church of San Salvario. He is also known as Il Cavalière del Cairo, because in Turin, he received the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus in recognition of his merit.

Many of his works are eccentric depictions of religious ecstasies; the saints appear liquefied and contorted by piety. He often caps them with exuberant, oriental turbans. More on Francesco Cairo

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