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Een episode uit de fabel van Erysichthon getekend door Maarten de Vos

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image of Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History

In the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie is a photograph from Max Friedländer's archives of a drawing as yet unmentioned in the literature (Fig. I). It is clearly in pen and wash and somewhat damaged. The subject is The Mountain Nymph Sent by Ceres Commands Hunger to Punish Erysichthon. Friedländer ascribed the drawing to Frans Floris, but it must be by Maarten de Vos (Note I ) . It is worthy of attention not only as one of De Vos's few drawings of subjects from Ovid's Metamorphoses (Note 2), but also because this story is rarely depicted, except in illustrations to editions of the, work in which the mountain nymph episode customarily figures (Note 3). Among the twelve independent representations of the story listed by Denzler (Note 4), only one shows the same moment in it as De Vos's drawing: an anonymous print published in Antwerp around 1550 (Fig.3, Note 5). A drawing by Tobias Verhaeght, who probably knew this print, has recently also been identified as showing the same subject (Note 6). De Vos's drawing is further from Ovid's text than either of these, but still far from original, since the composition is borrowed from a Metamorphoses illustration by Bernard Salomon or, more likely, the copy of it in reverse by Virgil Solis (Fig. 2, Note 7). A notable difference, however, is that De Vos, like the anonymous print and Verhaeght, depicts Hunger as a man, a clear departure from Ovid which appears to occur only in the Netherlands. It is also found in illustrations there, first in Pieter van der Borcht's (Note 8), which may be based on the anonymous print. De Vos and Verhaeght may also have been inspired by Van der Borcht's illustration or the print, but another source of inspiration for all three artists could have been the Dutch translation of the Metamorphoses by Joannes Florianus, published in Antwerp in 1552, where Hunger is also presented as a man (Note 9). Since its publication only three representations of the Erysichthon story have been added to Denzler's list (Note 10), the De Vos drawing now bringing the total to sixteen. To these can be added six prints by the little-known French artist George Boba (Note 11). At present it seems as if the episode of the meeting between the mountain nymph and Hunger attracted attention as a separate subject only in the Netherlands.


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