Leda and the Swan

Artist: Bachiacca (Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi) (Italian, Florence 1494–1557 Florence)

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: Overall 16 7/8 x 12 1/2 in. (42.9 x 31.8 cm); painted surface 16 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (41.9 x 31.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982

Accession Number: 1982.60.11


Although Leda, wife of Tyndareus, king of Sparta, is commonly said to have conceived two children by her husband and two by Zeus during the same evening, Euripedes, in Iphigenia at Aulus, mentions a fifth child. Bachiacca was no doubt familiar with the fourteenth-century Ovide moralisée, which states that Castor, Pollux, and Helen all emerged from a single egg, as here depicted at the right. The two children at the left must be Clytemnestra and Phoebe.

The pose of Leda derives from a print by Dürer, and the buildings in the left background from a print by Lucas van Leyden.