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Study for Orpheus and Eurydice (recto); A Bacchanal Procession (verso): Gallery Label - Current


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
In this large and forceful compositional study, Pietro Fancelli depicted the tragic story of Orpheus and Eurydice. After Eurydice had been killed by a snake, her husband, Orpheus, descended into Hades and convinced Pluto to allow Eurydice to come back to the upper world with him. There was one condition, however: he could not look back at Eurydice until they had left Hades. Fancelli showed the moment when Orpheus, having looked back, grasps for his wife in vain as she falls powerlessly away. Meanwhile, Pluto, the god of the underworld watches the scene from above beside his wife, Persephone. Cerberus the three-headed dog who guards the entrance to Hades, snarls at Orpheus's feet. In the background, souls are being ferried on boats on the River Styx to the gates of the underworld. This is a working drawing, with many details left to plan. The artist is freely, spontaneously working out the design right on the page, first exploring ideas in graphite, then delineating what pleases him in pen and ink. In the lower margin, he tried out variations on Orpheus and Cerberus.
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Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rights: Copyright Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Added to Site: May 15, 2009