Jacob Jordaens: Meleager and Atalanta (1640-1650)

(Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain)


A painting by the Flemish artist Jacob Jordaens (1593 – 1678). The depicted scene is from the book 'Metamorphoses' by the roman poet Ovid. According to the story an enormous wild boar was ravaging the region of Calydon. The king's son, Meleager, gathered his most skilled colleagues and set out to kill the beast. Atalanta, a colleague of Meleager and a brave huntress, was the first to wound the boar making it easier for Meleager to strike the final blow. Meleager gave the boar's hide to Atalanta to honor her part in the hunt. Angry that the prize of the boar's hide had been given to a woman, the other hunters, including the uncles of Meleager, stole the prize from Atalanta. This infuriated Meleager who fought the thieves and killed them. Jordaens shows the stealing of the boar's hide (here a head): the thieves are on the left and right side of Meleager and Atalanta. Meleager is brandishing his sword to kill his uncles while Atalanta attempts to halt Meleager’s vengeful fury. Painting from 1640-1650.

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