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ID number:  BIRBI-50.7b
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Unknown Italian Artist
Title / Object name:  The Metamorphosis of Daphne
Object type:  Painting
Place made:  Florence
Culture:  Italian
Date made:  1440s
Materials:  Tempera on wood
Measurements:  47.5 x 53.1 cm

The scenes illustrate a story from Metamorphoses written by the Roman poet Ovid. The poem describes a series of magical transformations. In the first panel (No. 70a), the sun god Apollo pursues the nymph Daphne who has rejected his love and flees. As Apollo draws close, she begs for help from her father, the river god Peneus. She consequently changes into a laurel tree. The transformation is depicted in this panel (No. 50.7b).

These two panels probably formed the ends of a decorated chest, known as a cassone. They were among the most expensive items in 15th- and 16th- century Italian households and were usually made to celebrate marriages and show off the two newly-united families' wealth. Initially the bride's family commissioned them to transport her dowry and then store her clothes, fine textiles and/or wedding gifts. So they needed to be both decorative and practical, as well as demonstrating the patrons' intellect and status. Popular themes included illustrations of poetry, classical mythology and the Old Testament.

The panels are by two different Florentine artists from the same workshop, which would explain why Apollo wears two different costumes. However, they were previously attributed to a Florentine artist referred to as the Master of the Judgement of Paris (active mid-15th century).

Notes:  Exhibited: 'Telling Time', National Gallery, London, UK, 18 October 2000 - 14 January 2001

1 Related People

Master of the Judgement of Paris

1 Related Publications

Telling Time
Sturgis, A.
National Gallery Company Limited, London
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