Diana and Actaeon

Bartholomeus Spranger (Netherlandish, Antwerp 1546–1611 Prague)

ca. 1590–95
Pen and brown ink, brush and brown and gray wash, white heightening, over traces of black chalk, on paper washed blue and pink
16 1/4 x 12 5/8 in. (41.3 x 32.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1997
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This drawing represents the story of Diana and Actaeon, as told in Ovid's Metamorphoses (Book III: 138-253). Perched atop a rocky outcropping at the upper left, Actaeon looks down upon Diana, who is bathing in the company of nymphs in an enclosed wooded setting. As the bathers attempt to cover themselves, Diana splashes water at the intruder, who is being transformed into a stag as punishment. Although the function served by the drawing is not known for certain, it is likely to have been made as a study for a cabinet painting. The conception of this subject in vertical format is unusual and would be well suited for this purpose.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: On the old mount: at upper left, inscribed "d.t." (?) in graphite; at upper right, inscribed "Kat 63/650" in graphite; at lower left, inscribed "i" in pen and brown ink; at lower left, inscribed "14" in graphite; over this, inscribed "No. 1" in pen and brown ink; at lower center, inscribed "N.29" in graphite; over this, inscribed "29" in pen and brown ink; at lower right, inscribed "B. Spranger" in graphite. Verso: at upper left, annotated "Spranger" in graphite and "Achille Rijhiner" in pen and brown ink; at right center, inscribed "Portefeuille No 7 Dessein No 50" in pen and brown ink (Mark of John Strange); below, inscribed "WAW" in graphite; at lower right, inscribed "SI" in graphite; below, inscribed "Lpz Sul. [?]/C Weigel [?]/Entr 1867 ou Apr 68/[...]"

  • Provenance

    Achille Ryhiner-Delon (1731–1788); John Strange (British, 1732–1799)

  • Exhibition History

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," October 6, 1997–January 4, 1998.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.

  • References

    Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel , Munich Old Master Drawings. Sale catalogue. May 8-May 31 1997, cat. no. 8, ill.

    George R. Goldner, Colta Ives, Carolyn Logan, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1996-1997." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.s., vol. 55, no. 2, Autumn 1997, p. 35 (entry written by Carolyn Logan), ill.

    Renaissance Venice and the North: Crosscurrents in the time of Bellini, Dürer and Titian. Ex. cat., Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Sept. 5, 1999-Jan. 9, 2000. Ed. by Bernard Aikema, and Beverly Louise Brown, Venice, 1999, cat. no. 198, pp. 634-35, ill.

  • See also