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The Challenge of the Pierides, from Ovid's Metamorphosis (Book V: 294-678)

Artist:
Karel van Mander I (Netherlandish, Meulebeke 1548–1606 Amsterdam)
Date:
16th–17th century
Medium:
Pen and brown ink, brown wash. Framing line in pen and brown ink
Dimensions:
sheet: 6 9/16 x 8 15/16 in. (16.7 x 22.7 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Purchase, 2005 Benefit Fund and Dodge Fund, 2007
Accession Number:
2007.406
Not on view
Like his Italian predecessor Giorgio Vasari, Karel van Mander I is best known as an author, in his case of the first collection of biographies of Netherlandish artists, but he was also a highly skilled and wonderfully imaginative draftsman. This drawing depicts a story told in Ovid's Metamorphoses (5.294-678) in which the nine Pierides, daughters of King Pierus of Emathia, are turned into magpies after losing the singing contest to which they challenged the nine Muses. The scene is set at one of the sacred sources on Mount Helicon or Mount Parnassus. Probably following the example of a print after Rosso Fiorentino, van Mander seems to have cast Apollo as the final judge. This drawing and two similar sheets by van Mander at the Uffizi, Florence, may have been meant as the continuation of an elaborate but aborted series of print illustrations of the Metamorphoses by van Mander's great contemporary and friend Hendrick Goltzius. Goltzius in turn must have been incited to work on the series by van Mander's interest in Ovid's book, on which he published a commentary in 1604.
Marking: Verso: at lower left, the collector's mark of John McGowan (Lugt 1496). Watermark: Basel crozier with star (similar to Briquet 1305)
John MacGowan (British, died in 1803, Edinburgh); probably his sale, Thomas Philipe (British, 1740–1816), January 26 - Feb 2, 1804; sale, Christie's, New York, 25 January 2007, lot 57(as by an artist from the cirlce of Goltzius); Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, Munich
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," October 20, 2008–January 11, 2009.

Christie's, New York Old Master and 19th century Drawings. Sale cat. January 25, 2007, cat. 57 (as by an artist from the cirlce of Hendrick Goltzius), ill.

Stijn Alsteens, Nadine Orenstein, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2007-2008." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 66, no. 2, Fall 2008, pp. 18-19, ill.



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