The Feast of the Gods at the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche

Artist: Hendrick Goltzius (Netherlandish, Mühlbracht 1558–1617 Haarlem)

Artist: After Bartholomeus Spranger (Netherlandish, Antwerp 1546–1611 Prague)

Date: 1587

Medium: Engraving printed from three plates; second state

Dimensions: 16 15/16 x 33 5/8in. (43 x 85.4cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Purchase, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, Martha Feltenstein Gift, and A. Hyatt Mayor Purchase Fund, Marjorie Phelps Starr Bequest, 2000

Accession Number: 2000.113

Description

Comprising about seventy figures and printed from three engraved plates, this print was the largest and most famous of the Haarlem engraver's collaborations with Bartholomeus Spranger, court painter to Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. The daring composition—a bravura display of elegant twisting and turning figures—was of great importance in disseminating Spranger's Mannerist aesthetic and Goltzius's virtuoso engraving style throughout Europe. As is typical of Mannerist works, the main subjects of the scene are placed in the background: the small figures of Cupid with large wings and his bride, Psyche, the mortal beauty who is being admitted to the ranks of the gods, are at the head of the table in the center. The wedding guests surround the couple; Bacchus pours the drinks, while Apollo and the Muses serenade the company. The drawing for the print is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

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