Hendrick Goltzius (Netherlandish, 15581617), after Bartholomeus Spranger (Netherlandish, 15461611)
Engraving, printed from three plates on three attached sheets; second state of four; Overall 16 7/8 x 33 5/8 in. (43 x 85.4 cm)
Purchase, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsy Fund, Martha Feltenstein Gift, and A. Hyatt Mayor Purchase Fund, Marjorie Phelps Starr Bequest, 2000 (2000.113)
In this extravaganza comprising over eighty figures, Goltzius engraved the heavenly banquet honoring the marriage of Cupid and Psyche. The couple sit at the head of the table, Cupid's large wings visible on the right. They are surrounded by the gods who have been put to work in jobs appropriate to their talents: Ceres guides the serving staff, Bacchus pours the wine, and Apollo and his muses serenade the crowd.
The Feast of the Gods at the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche heralded a new period of boldness and daring in the artist's engravings. His lines in this print are thicker and deeper than those in his work up to 1585. They swell rather than merely taper off at the ends, and curve to underscore the roundness of the elegant forms. The print is dated 1587, but Goltzius and Spranger no doubt worked on this large and complex piece over a period of at least a year, if not more, sending proofs back and forth between Prague and Haarlem.