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Meleager and Atalanta - Jacob Jordaens. 152 x 120 cm
This bright and memorable canvas was painted by the artist in the early days of his work, but it already clearly reflects his writing style and the fashionable style used - Baroque.
The painting exploits a popular theme from ancient Greek myths about the hunter Meleager and the brave girl Atalanta, who turned out to be a hunting master no worse than men.
When the father of Meleager did not make the necessary sacrifice to the hunting goddess Artemis, she angrily sent a terrible monster to his kingdom - a giant Caledonian boar. This terrible, wild animal terrified the settlements and ravaged the fields. Meleager threw a cry among the best Greek hunters, and he still managed to defeat the monster.
It was Atalanta who inflicted the first wound on the boar, weakening the animal and thereby ensuring the possibility of its destruction. For this, she was rewarded according to the law of that time: she was handed the head and skin of a boar as a well-deserved hunting trophy.
The picture captures precisely this moment. In the center of the picture, Atalanta herself is depicted in a snow-white tunic and with a precious band over her shoulder. She holds on her lap, clutching her hand, the huge head of a monstrous boar with predatory bared fangs. Hunters crowded around her, disputing her right to prey and honors. Their greedy hands reach for the trophy, trying to take it from Atalanta. The meaning of the action is understandable - everyone wants to become a hero and is outraged by the fact that a woman was in this place.
In the picture, Atalanta turned to the nearby Meleager and looks at him questioningly while he defends his decision. In the lower part of the picture, hunting dogs, crazy about the smell of fresh blood, also reach for their prey with their muzzles.
The painting, as always with Jordans, impresses with its colors and complex multi-figure composition. Faces of people are written out very carefully and bear memorable features. Interestingly, Atalanta and Meleager are distinguished by very fair skin, which literally shines on the canvas, while all other faces are dark, weathered or red.
The picturesque advantages of the canvas immediately allow you to attribute it to the work of this particular master. He became famous for his masterly ability to create complex, combined compositions and masterfully depict folds of clothing. Possession of the brush puts him next to another great Flemish - Rubens.