Raphael: The Triumph of Galatea (1514)

(Villa Farnesina, Rome, Italy)

This is a very famous fresco which most people are familiar with. Subject of the fresco is the nereid or sea-nymph, Galatea. According to Greek mythology, Galatea was in love with the peasant shepherd Acis. Unfortunately the Sicilian Cyclops Polyphemus, a jealous rival who was also in love with Galatea, killed Acis with a boulder. Galatea then turned his blood into the Sicilian River Acis. Raphael shows not any of the main events of the story but instead shows the apotheosis of the sea-nymph. Galatea is surrounded by various sea creatures. At the left we can see a Triton (part man, part fish) abducts a sea nymph; behind them, another Triton uses a shell as a trumpet. Galatea rides a shell-chariot drawn by two dolphins. Fresco from 1514.