DIANA ET ACTAEON – Bernardino Cesari 1610 ca.
According to a Greek myth, Actaeon, the son of Aristaeus and Autonoe, surprises Diana, the Greek Artemis, while she was bathing with her nymphs. As a punishment she turned him into a stag and, no longer recognized by his pack of 50 hounds, she was torn to pieces by them. His tragic story is narrated in the third book of Ovid’s Metamorphosis, but this painting represents a more playful aspect: Diana is splashing water towards a Acteon, while the nymphs gaze into astonishment at the metamorphosis taking place on his head. A stone bears the inscription Bernardinus Cesari ab exemplo Josephi fratris Arpinas. This work datable to the first decade of the 17th century, is, in fact, a copy of a painting by Cavalier D’Arpino, which was reminiscent of Paul Bril in its depiction of the landscape and was executed in two versions in that period, one of which is visibile in the Borghese Gallery.