Ariadne, ca. 1831–35
Asher B. Durand (American, 1796–1886)
Oil on canvas; 17 1/2 x 19 3/8 in. (43.5 x 49.2 cm)
Gift of Samuel P. Avery, 1897 (97.29.2)
Durand painted this exquisite copy of John Vanderlyn's Ariadne Asleep on the Island of Naxos (1809–12; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) as the model for his engraving of virtually the same size, published in 1835. Ariadne was the daughter of the king of Crete who helped the Greek hero Theseus escape the labyrinth, then was seduced and abandoned by him on the island of Naxos. Vanderlyn had chosen the subject of his original as a premise for painting a lifesize nude, the finest example of such in the early history of American art. However, the original was painted in Paris, the center of Neoclassicism, where nudity in art was practically the standard. Not so in the young republic of America, where Vanderlyn's exhibitions of the painting were controversial and the artist could find an interested buyer only in Durand, who had little more success selling his reproduction.