UNKNOWN CENTRAL EUROPEAN MASTER: THE FEAST OF THE GODS
Before the mid-17th century
Oil on canvas.
The painting of “The Feast of the Gods” is executed on a large format and acts as a decorative panneau. This subject was very popular in Dutch paintings of the early 17th century, painted masterfully on small formats (cf. Jan Brueghel the Elder and Hendrick van Balen). Sometimes the subject acts as a medium for portraying the artist's patron and his court; in this case, the artist was probably inspired by several different subjects, from which he created a large composition that distantly builds on this. The subject is also often called “The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis”: Peleus, the legendary hero of Ancient Rome, and Thetis, the sea goddess, were the parents of Achilles, and their wedding ceremony was attended by the Gods of Olympus. In “The Feast of the Gods” one can identify Mercury, who has a winged hat on his head and is holding in his hand a caduceus – a staff entwined by two serpents and a symbol of commerce; further one can see Dionysus, Neptune, Ganymede and Hebe with little Cupids in the foreground.