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Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery William Hunter Collections:
GLAHA 44383

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GLAHM 44383: 'Laomedon Refusing Payment to Poseidon and Apollo' - click to view larger image

"Laomedon Refusing Payment to Poseidon and Apollo"

oil painting

CRE ITALIAN SCHOOL; (1640-1707) ATTR GERMAN SCHOOL; (17th century) ATTR FRENCH SCHOOL; (17th century) ATTR SANDRART, Joachim von; (German; 1606-1688) ATTR TROPPA, Girolamo; (Italian; c.1636-after 1706)

oil on canvas
96.5 x 80.6 sight
125.0 x 110.0 Michael Gregory (21/03/1989) said that the Laomedon is in a fine Louis XV French fram
This painting comes from the founder Dr. Hunter's collection. It was acquired for a very high price in the enormously expensive swoop that Hunter made on Robert Strange's sale at Christie's in 1771, in which he spent a total of £925.5.0 on 19 paintings. In the catalogue description of the painting, which was almost certainly bought in Italy, his attribution to Rosa was beyond doubt. Strange engraved it as by Rosa in 1775, advertising that it was in the collection of William Hunter M.D (see GLAHA 9058). No solution has yet been found for the attribution of this fine painting, which is the only Laomedon subject listed in Pigler's Barockthemen (1966). The image of the old man who is, as it were, warming his hands over the coins, is closely related to a painting attributed to P.F.Mola, An Old Man at a Brazier: an Allegory of Winter (Hugh Brigstocke and John Somerville, Italian Paintings from Burghley House, Alexandria, Virginia, 1995, no. 39. This catalogue refers to related Homeric paintings.) The hand has been compared to that of Bernhard Keil (Helsingborg 1624-1687 Rome), a Danish painter working in Rome in Rosa's lifetime. The subject is taken from Homer's Iliad, book XXI: Laomedon was son of King Ilus of Troy, and contracted with the gods Apollo and Poseidon, who had been banished from Olympus for one year, to build the walls of Troy. When they had finished, Laomedon refused to pay, resulting in continual natural disasters in the form of flood and plague, and it also explained why these two gods are consistently on the side of the Greeks against the Trojans in the story of the Iliad. In his Discourses, Reynolds advocated Rosa as an exponent of what he called the 'characteristical style' (Seven discourses delivered in the Royal Academy by the President, London, 1778, p. 175). Rosa, he wrote, 'gives us a peculiar cast of nature, which, tho' void of all grace, elegance and simplicity; tho' it has nothing of that elevation and dignity, which belongs to the grand style, yet, has that sort of dignity which belongs to savage and uncultivated nature…'. Part of Rosa's appeal to Hunter and Strange may have been his interest in anatomy, which certainly also inspired the student John Hamilton Mortimer (cat.126). The painting, or perhaps Strange's engraving of it, may be the source for the head of Poseidon in an etching with aquatint The Birth of Venus (cat. 63) by James Barry, an artist known to have consulted Hunter's collections. A 'Drawing Book' containing 60 etchings by Rosa was listed in Hunter's 'Common catalogue' (of books) but has not survived. Bequeathed by Dr William Hunter, 1783

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For more information please contact Malcolm.Chapman@glasgow.ac.uk