Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Amorini Celebrate the Rape of Proserpina, 1805–12
    Francesco Rosaspina (Italian, 1762–1841), after an oil painting by Francesco Albani (Italian, 1578–1660)
    Engraving and etching; finished state; plate 25 9/16 x 30 5/16 in. (65 x 77 cm)
    Gift of Alice C. Taft, Hope Smith, Marianna F. Taft, Helen Head, and Brockholst M. Smith, Providence, R.I., 1945 (45.78.123)

    Having conquered the sky and the earth, Venus told her son that she wished to extend their dominion to the Underworld. Cupid aimed his sharpest arrow at Pluto, causing him to fall violently in love with Proserpina, who was gathering flowers with her companions (right background) in a land of perpetual spring. Carrying her off in his chariot, Pluto disregarded the pleas of the nymph of the Bay of Cyane (left background) and plunged through the Sicilian bay into his subterranean realm (Metamorphoses 5.363–424).

    After her daughter's abduction, the distraught Ceres, goddess of the harvest, neglected her duties and the crops failed. To restore the earth's fertility, Jupiter decreed that Proserpina spend part of each year above ground. With her annual return comes the spring. Albani ignored the seasonal implications of the myth in order to focus on Love's triumph.

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  • Amorini Celebrate the Rape of Proserpina, 1805–12
    Francesco Rosaspina (Italian, 1762–1841), after an oil painting by Francesco Albani (Italian, 1578–1660)
    Engraving and etching; finished state; plate 25 9/16 x 30 5/16 in. (65 x 77 cm)
    Gift of Alice C. Taft, Hope Smith, Marianna F. Taft, Helen Head, and Brockholst M. Smith, Providence, R.I., 1945 (45.78.123)

    Amorini Celebrate the Rape of Proserpina, 1805–12
    Francesco Rosaspina (Italian, 1762–1841), after an oil painting by Francesco Albani (Italian, 1578–1660)
    Engraving and etching; incomplete proof impression

    sheet (trimmed within platemark): 24 3/8 x 29/78 in. (61.9 x 75.9 cm)
    Gift of Junius S. Morgan, 1923 (23.106.61)

    Rosaspina believed that he could translate the color and style of a painting only if the work was in front of him as he engraved, which is one reason it took him so long to complete this, his most famous print. Because there were long intervals between his visits to Milan, where Albani's painting was located, several proofs in different stages of completion survive.

    Albani's famous painting of dancing cupids, now in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, is based on Ovid's account of Proserpina's ravishment by Pluto (the Greek Hades), presented as a song sung by the Muses and decided to Proserpina's mother Ceres (the Greek De


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