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Mercury and Argus

A work made of etching on cream laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of etching on cream laid paper.

Date:

1642/48

Artist:

Simone Cantarini
Italian, 1612-1648

About this artwork

Mercury and Argus shows Mercury, disguised as a shepherd, lulling the giant Argus to sleep in order to steal Io, the comely cow in the background of the image, for Jupiter. One of Jupiter’s many mortal lovers, Io was turned into a cow and put under the guardianship of Argus. But Jupiter tasks Mercury with killing Argus and freeing Io—the scene shown here. While Cantarini depicted Argus with two eyes, the giant was said to have a hundred. After Argus is killed by Mercury, his eyes decorate the peacock’s feathers.

With its poetic effect and mature technical ability, this is one of the artist’s most prized etchings. The composition dates to his late years in Bologna and is also known in a painting now in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, which may derive from the etching.

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Prints and Drawings

Artist

Simone Cantarini

Title

Mercury and Argus

Origin

Italy

Date

1642–1648

Medium

Etching on cream laid paper

Dimensions

257 × 299 mm

Credit Line

Hannan Fund Endowment

Reference Number

1972.985

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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