Los Cuadernos De Julia - Apollo Flaying Marsyas


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The presentation produced for Los Cuadernos de Julia blog looks at various aspects of depicting the famous story of a musical contest between Apollo and Marsyas in European art.

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Los Cuadernos De Julia - Apollo Flaying Marsyas

  1. 1. Apollo and Marsyas A Few Points on the Subject of Iconography Julie Delvaux We know this story: Marsyas challenged Apollo to win the musical contest, and then Apollo flayed the unlucky satyr. In spite of being rather gruesome, the story was often commemorated in painting, sculpture, and even mosaic. So many artists, so many stories – and the story of Apollo and Marsyas is by no means an exclusion...
  2. 2. Whose Limbs Are Those, Anyway? Being a satyr, Marsyas would have the appearance of a goat below the waist. But this was not always the case, if we look at some iconographical representations.
  3. 3. The Unbearable Lightness of Flaying Very often we see a peculiar concentration on the face of Apollo, as he is depicted flaying Marsyas. On this 1637 Jusepe de Ribera painting, Apollo is heavily involved in the “operation”.
  4. 4. The Unbearable Lightness of Flaying Other times Apollo watches Marsyas with all his divine attention, and the image becomes almost comical.
  5. 5. The Unbearable Lightness of Flaying And yet on some occasions, as in this painting by Titian, Apollo, in the most historical fashion, accompanies the punishment by playing his lyre.
  6. 6. Using Myths to Illustrate Science Whether Apollo was single-handedly flaying Marsyas or was the most distinguished onlooker, the story of a musical contest and its aftermath was a good chance to showcase the knowledge of human anatomy and the experience of attending the anatomy theatre.
  7. 7. The Face of Marsyas Apollo was taking time to punish his contestant; Marsyas was screaming in agonising pain. The satyr was an enviable character to paint or carve – precisely for the range of emotions that could be conveyed via a distorted human face.
  8. 8. This presentation used works by Luca Giordano, Jusepe de Ribera, Raphael, Carle van Loo, Titian, Guercino, Giulio Carpioni, Antonio Corradini, Balthasar Permoser, Jacob Jordaens, and Pietro Perugino. Antonio Corradini sculpture ca seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; Balthasar Permoser work is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. © Julie Delvaux 2009 Los Cuadernos de Julia