Chelone Transforming into a Turtle by Filippo Lauri

I. Artist: Filippo Lauri, born in 17th century Rome, was an artistic protégé who followed in the footsteps of his brother (Bryan, 1889, 25-26). Although having painted a small number of altar-pieces for churches, his most notable works involved those revolving around myth (Bryan, 1889, 25-26). Some important pieces comparable to those we have studied this year include “The Punishment of Marsyas,” “Venus and Adonis,” and “The Rape of Europa” among others (Bryan, 1889, 25-26). Lauri was also known for painting images that were housed in palaces around Rome (Blanton Museum of Art Collections, n.d.).

II. Date: Circa 1671 (Blanton Museum of Art Collections, n.d.)

III. Location on Campus: Blanton Museum of Art

IV. Acquisition: As part of the Suida-Manning Collection, this painting arrived along with seven hundred other works in 1999 to the Blanton (Dobryzinski, 1998). Amassed by famous art historians William Suida and Robert and Bertina Suida-Manning, the collection comprises of various works by European artists spanning the 14th to 18th centuries (Dobryzinski, 1998). Robert Manning, a native of Texas, expressed prior to his death his desire for the collection to remain intact in a Texan institution and evaluated the Blanton by inviting its then-curator to his New York residence where many of the paintings were on display (Dobryzinski, 1998). His daughter, Ms. Dolnier, donated part of the collection to the Blanton. She emphasized her preference for the collection’s placement in a university in contrast to a museum like the Metropolitan in New York since it would garner much greater appreciation instead of landing in storage (Dobryzinski, 1998). Value is also derived from the artwork in the university museum due to its ideal nature for student-driven study and research involving Renaissance and Baroque art (Dobryzinski, 1998). Today, fifty of these works, including Lauri’s, are on permanent exhibition (Ura, 2013).

IV. Description: Oil painting on canvas 59 cm x 71.2 cm (23 1/4 in. x 28 1/16 in.)

Lauri explicitly depicts the mythological event of Jupiter and Juno’s wedding. Here, it is clear that he uses as inspiration Servius’ account of the myth in his commentary on Virgil’s Aeneid, which goes as follows. Mercury was said to have invited all the gods, humans, and animals to the wedding of his father. The nymph, Chelone, elected not to attend due to her arrogance, which greatly angered Mercury. He decided to discard Chelone’s house into a river while transforming her into a turtle or tortoise (Servius, Ad. Virgil’s Aeneid, i.509). This moment of metamorphosis is the subject of Lauri’s artistic rendition. In relation to mythological variants of this tale, one of the first accounts appears in Aesop’s Fables in which it is often coined “Zeus and the Tortoise.” This version of myth is responsible for birthing important ideals about the meaning and social constructs surrounding the oikos. According to Aesop, Zeus invited the animals to his wedding who all arrived except for the tortoise. His curiosity led him to inquire about her absence to which she replied, “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” Zeus’ characteristic anger is displayed when he punishes her by ordering her to carry her house (Aesop, Fables, 508). The quote is particularly interesting in that it influenced the writings of Christian classical scholar Desiderius Erasmus (1523) who included a version of the tortoise’s saying in his book of adages. Scholars or writers such as Plutarch and Cicero utilized the quote in order to make conclusions about the essence of a “loved home” in which often the wife must ascribe to her duties as a homemaker (Erasmus, 1523). Aesop’s version of the myth also functions in an etiological fashion in order to explain the nature of the tortoise shell. In fact, khelone signifies “tortoise” in Greek (Aesop, Fables, 508). Taking some artistic liberty, Lauri strays slightly from both recorded versions of the tale in that the main condemner of Chelone is Juno while both Mercury and Jupiter occupy spaces further away from the action (Blanton Museum of Art Collections, n.d.). One might wonder why Lauri would choose such a rendition when Juno’s main role in mythology is often subordinate to Jupiter as his consort (Buxton, 2016, 70-71). It is possible that Lauri is attempting to allude to Juno’s vindictive nature that frequently places her in a role to catalyze the metamorphosis of various characters (Buxton, 2016, 70-71). In this particular instance, the Greek conceptions of timḗ, hubris, and nemesis have particular relevance. As two powerful gods, Juno and Jupiter place great importance on their timḗ. Chelone’s lack of proper reverence to the Olympian gods by failing to attend their wedding is a direct attack and damage to their timḗs, which constitutes an act of hubris. In terms of hubris, as a nymph, Chelone fails to “know [herself]” and her place on the religious hierarchy by mocking the union of gods far more honored than her. At this point, Chelone is expected to incur nemesis, or retribution, in order for Juno and Jupiter to restore their timḗs. By transforming Chelone into a turtle, the punishment does appear severe yet is necessary if there is to only be one winner. The pleading expression Lauri plasters on Chelone’s face and outstretched hand as she attempts to escape her fate in the midst of her transformation is a testament to the lack of mercy the gods display. Juno may be the key player here because she also has a specific responsibility to uphold the value of marriage, which remains her sphere of influence, and a nymph like Chelone clearly specifically damages Juno’s timḗ by mocking a wedding union (Buxton, 2016, 70-71). When observing the manner in which Lauri depicts the gods, it is important to take artistic era into context. The seventeenth century is representative of a time period where artists were highly educated, and classical mythology had great cultural relevance (Brenner, 1996). In fact, the circulation of texts that defined visual symbols allowed for easy recognition of artistic entities such as Jupiter’s eagle or Juno’s peacock (Brenner, 1996). Interestingly, Lauri does not depict Juno in a traditional fashion. Instead of a modest and clothed appearance, she is likened more to Venus in her exposed state with only a veil slightly draping over her body (Morford, Lenardon, and Sham, 2014). Mercury, in position behind Jupiter, possesses the traditional attributes that were often associated with him in ancient art. He appears as a young, beardless man with a winged hat and caduceus, or herald’s wand, in his left hand, which was typical of Mercury in Roman iconography (“Hermes”, n.d.). The staff symbolizes Mercury’s role as the messenger of the gods and his relation to commerce or trade (Hornblower and Spawforth, 1996). Behind Hera, Lauri illustrates Cupid, the god of love, in Roman fashion as a young winged boy. Although Cupid had various functions in post classical art, here he is most likely a celebrant of the nuptial scene, also conveyed by the young appearance of both Juno and Jupiter (“Eros”, n.d). Finally, taking the oval shape of the canvas into account, it is possible the artwork was made to be displayed above a door or window indicating its decorative function (Blanton Museum of Art Collections, n.d.). This piece is displayed along with another piece of Lauri’s, which depicts the famous mythological metamorphosis account of “Venus and Adonis.” The similar shape and frame indicate that the two pieces may have been part of a series.


1984. “Aesop Fables.” Franklin Center, PA: Franklin Library.

Blanton Museum of Art Collections. n.d. “Mercury Transforming Chelone into a Turtle.” Accessed April 18, 2019.

Brenner, Carla. 1996. “The Inquiring Eye” Classical Mythology in European Art Teaching Packet.” Washington DC: National Gallery of Art.

Bryan, Michael. 1889. “Dictionary of Painters and Engravers: Biographical and Critical, Volume 2.” Edited by Walter Armstrong and Robert Edmund Graves, 25-26. London: George Well and Sons.

Buxton, Richard. 2016. “The Complete World of Greek Mythology.” London: Thames & Hudson

Dobryzinski, Judith. 1998. “Art Museum in Texas Gets Trove of 700 Works.” New York Times, November 12, 1998.

Erasmus, Desiderius. 1536. “The Adages of Erasmus.” Selected by William Barker. Toronto: Toronto University Press.

Filippo Lauri, “Mercury Transforming Chelone into a Turtle,” Blanton Museum of Art Collections, accessed April 26, 2019.

Hornblower, Simon and Anthony Spawforth, ed. 1996. The Oxford Classical Dictionary, third ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

McDonough, Christopher Michael, Richard Edmon Prior, and Mark Stansbury. 2004. “Servius Commentary on Book Four of Virgils Aeneid”. Mundelein: Bolchazi-Calducci Publishers.

Morford, Mark, Robert J. Lenardon, and Michael Sham. 2014. “Classical Mythology.” New York: Oxford University Press.

Theoi n.d. “Eros.” Accessed April 23, 2019.

Theoi n.d. “Hermes.” Accessed April 22, 2019.

Ura, Alexa. 2013. “Foundation to Transfer Full Ownership of Suida-Manning Collection to Blanton in 2016.” The Daily Texan, April, 29, 2013.

Written by Palak Diwanji

Prometheus and Vulture by Koren Der Harootian

Artist: Harootian was born in Armenia. Due to the mass genocide by the ruling Turks his family moved to Russia initially but ended up immigrating to the United States. This gave Harootian the opportunity to gain an education where he studied painting and developed the early skill of watercolor painting. After finishing his schooling, he moved to Jamaica where he befriend Edna Manley who greatly influenced his work leading to his love of carving. His sculptures ranges “being made from” wood, bronze, and stone carvings.

Date: Created in 1948

Location on Campus: Bass Concert Hall, 6th floor

Acquisition: Prometheus and Vulture, in addition to 27 other sculptures, was loaned to UT in 2009 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All 28 sculptures were introduced to UT to expose the students, and other visitors, to major art trends during the last half of the 20th century.

Description: The Prometheus and Vulture sculpture is made of marble. The dimensions are 62.5 × 33.75 × 15.5 inches. Rather than Harootian being influenced by Jamaican art, he kept his own style and perspective when creating his sculptures. In fact, his creations impacted Jamaican culture. With the help of Manely, they were able to twist the traditional artwork in Jamaica into a beautiful, alternative new genre.

In Apollodorus’ account of Prometheus and humanity, Prometheus is seen as the creator of mankind by forming them straight from the earth and water. In Aeschylus’ play, Prometheus Bound, Prometheus granted humans every skill from navigation to medicine. But the greatest gift he gave them that coined him as “humanity’ benefactor” was fire! Prometheus is seen as the giver of science and civilization. In both accounts Prometheus is the god of foresight. Although he knew his disobedience would result in punishment, he knew he would eventually be freed (eventually he was freed by Herakles). This beautiful sculpture crafted by Harootian does have the symbolic meaning of the traditional myth that Prometheus is the god of foresight, and after being tormented for eternity he would be eventually freed. However, Harootian gave the sculpture the underlying symbolism of fear and conflict, serving a metaphor for WWII. Harootian wanted to express in this sculpture that, like Prometheus, the ones who suffered after the war believed their suffering was a crucial step in the advancement of mankind and they knew they would be released from the oppression and torment. In the sculpture itself you can see Prometheus chained and laying back in agony. However, rather than following the myth of Apollodorus and Aeschylus, the bird in the sculpture is a vulture rather than an eagle. In this sculpture the vulture is mounted on Prometheus’ knee as if prepared to eat out his liver. I believe that this sculpture is also meant to express the element of sacrifice in mankind. Prometheus sacrifices a large part of his life just for the advancement of humans. Its human nature to sacrifice yourself rather than have others in misery. Parents would sacrifice everything for the well being of their kids, in this case Prometheus is the parent and the children are all humans. Sacrifice is meant to benefit for the greater good. Prometheus knows he would be suffering for an unknown amount of time, but he sees it’s worth it for the advancement of his creations.


“APOLLODORUS, THE LIBRARY 1.” APOLLODORUS, THE LIBRARY BOOK 1 – Theoi Classical Texts Library. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Chen, T. S., and P. S. Chen. “The Myth of Prometheus and the Liver.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. December 1994. Accessed April 25, 2019.

“Khoren Der Harootian.” Khoren Der Harootian RSS. Accessed April 25, 2019.

“PROMETHEUS.” PROMETHEUS – Greek Titan God of Forethought, Creator of Mankind. Accessed April 22, 2019.

“Prometheus and Vulture.” LANDMARKS. August 01, 2018. Accessed April 25, 2019.

Aeschylus. “Prometheus Bound.” In Anthology of Classical Myth. 2nd ed.

Written by Julia Ouchie


Danaë by Jacques Blanchard at the Blanton Museum of Art

Artist: Jacques Blanchard (1600-1638), sometimes referred to as “French Titian”, is best known for his small religious and mythological paintings. Blanchard’s paintings deviated substantially from his contemporaries’; specifically, Blanchard’s painting style was softer and gentler with color and light than works of the Mannerist period that preceded him, and his choice of more sensual subject matter was unorthodox for the time period. But despite his deviance in style from many other famous contemporaries, the influence of the early baroque style on Blanchard’s painting is clearly observed in Danaë.

Date: Danaë was completed in the 1620s, 20 years into the start of the Baroque artistic period in Europe.

Location on Campus: The painting is housed in the Suida-Manning collection of the Blanton Museum of Art. Danaë one of the 50 pieces from the collection that is a part of Blanton’s permanent exhibition.

Acquisition: The painting was acquired by the University in 1998, along with the other 250 European paintings, 400 drawings, and 20 sculptures of the $33 million Suida-Manning Collection.

Description: The painting is a 36 3/4 in. x 50 9/16 in oil painting on canvas. Danaë is a vivid depiction of the mythological scene in which the Danaë, mother of the Greek hero Perseus, first encounters the enraptured and infatuated Jupiter.

One of the more striking artistic elements employed in the painting that was characteristic of baroque art is Blanchard’s use of chiaroscuro, or contrast between light and dark in order to highlight the central figures in the painting. In this image, Danaë’s fair skin is contrasted with a dark background, which is interrupted only by the glowing image of Jupiter. This serves to help the viewer focus their attention initially on the beauty of Danaë, allowing recognition of the subtleties of the painting to be registered later. In addition, one of baroque art’s central tenants was painting highly emotional scenes in order to appeal to the pathos of the viewer in a particular way; in this painting, Blanchard seems to emphasize Danaë’s confusion at the presence of Zeus more than any other emotion. Present also in the painting is a depiction of Cupid, or Eros, helping the reader understand that Jupiter’ admiration is of a sexual nature.

The Greek myth of Perseus and his strange birth may explain Danaë’s expression of confusion in this painting. According to Pherecydes’ The Histories and Apollodorus’ Library, Danaë’s father, Acrisios, had concern about fathering a male child and consulted the oracle for answers. There, the god Pytho informed Acrisios that his daughter Danaë would father a child who would ultimately kill him. In order to prevent his own fate at the hands of his grandson, he constructed an underground bronze chamber in his courtyard and kept Danaë inside as prisoner so that no man could woo and wed her. However, Acrisios’ attempts at isolating the beautiful Danaë failed when Zeus caught sight of Danaë. Zeus fell in love with her, and, turning himself into a shower of gold, rained down through the thatched roof, wooed her, and impregnated her. Ovid, a later Roman poet, retold the story briefly in book 4 of Metamorphoses, changing Danaë’s prison from an underground bronze chamber into a tower. Nonetheless, it is likely that Blanchard was influenced by a classical Greek text such as Library or Histories, as these accounts provide the reader with the most vivid detail of the scene.

Because the whole purpose of Danaë’s isolation was to keep her away from men, it is only natural that she would be surprised at the presence of Zeus in her chamber. It is unclear in the image whether Danaë is underground or in a tower; however, given that Zeus is on a cloud, it is assumed that she is in a tower and Zeus is seeing her through the open window. As aforementioned, the presence of Eros, or Cupid, indicates that, characteristically, Zeus is infatuated and that he is about to sexually pursue Danaë. Contrary to descriptions in myth, however, Zeus is depicted not as a golden shower, but as a deity. This is likely to help the reader understand Zeus’ infatuation, as his facial expression of admiration is a key indication to viewer of his intentions in Danaë’s chamber. Danaë and Cupid’s open hands indicate that, though surprised and perhaps confused, Danaë was welcome to Zeus’ presence in her chamber. No part of myth indicates that Zeus forced himself on Danaë, and Blanchard emphasizes this by filling Danaë’s facial expression with wonder.

This painting is an excellent example of how Greek myths were adapted by European artists to fit the style of their period. Jacques Blanchard’s Danaë demonstrates how baroque art appropriated Greek myth while remaining true to the artistic style of the individual artist. The fact that paintings like this are owned by the University of Texas is a testament to the University’s commitment to displaying and giving students access to a wide variety of high-quality, cross-cultural works.


“A Work by Jacques Blanchard Identified in Austin.” A Work by Jacques Blanchard Identified in Austin – The Art Tribune. Accessed April 27, 2019.

“Baroque.” Grove Art. September 26, 2018. Accessed April 27, 2019.

“Boundless Art History.” Lumen. Accessed April 27, 2019.

“Foundation to Transfer Full Ownership of Suida-Manning Collection to Blanton in 2016.” The Daily Texan. Accessed April 27, 2019.

“Jacques Blanchard.” Europeana Collections. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Rose, H. J. Gods and Heroes of the Greeks: An Introduction to Greek Mythology. New York: New American, 1976.

“Suida-Manning Collection at the Blanton Museum.” The Magazine Antiques. January 26, 2017. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Trzaskoma, Stephen M., R. Scott Smith, Stephen Brunet, and Thomas G. Palaima.  Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation. Apollodorus, Library, 4.1-2.4.5; Pherecydes, from The Histories, 10 The Story of Danae (fr. 10 Fowler). Hackett.

Written by Sophia Bibb

The Punishment of Tityos by Nicolas Beatrizet after the drawing by Michelangelo, circa 1542

I. Artist: The artist who created this piece, The Punishment of Tityos, after the drawing by Michelangelo, circa 1542, is named Nicolas Beatrizet. According to accounts on Blanton
Museum’s website, Beatrizet was a French artist believed to be born around the year 1507 in Lunéville, France. Beatrizet moved from France to Rome, Italy, where he produced most of his artwork in his early to later life. He was well known for his artistic style of engravings. Beatrizet greatly admired and was heavily influenced by the prominent work of Michelangelo. His works inspired Beatrizet to adopt his unique style and composition. It is believed that he died after 1560, somewhere around the year 1565 in Rome, Italy.

II. Date: This engraving was created in the year 1542.

III. Location on UT Campus: The Punishment of Tityos is located in the European artwork collection in the Blanton Museum of Art.

IV. Reason for Acquisition: The Punishment of Tityos was placed in Blanton museum in 2002 when it was exhibited in the Leo Steinberg Collection. The Leo Steinberg Collection contains over 3,200 prints created by both prominent and obscure artists. The collection was brought to the museum because it is considered one of the best collections of prints and many of the the pieces have never been displayed to the public before. Many of the prints included in the collection are currently on display at the museum and greatly contribute to the character and atmosphere of the European art section in Blanton.

V. Description: The medium used to create The Punishment of Tityos is an engraving and the piece was carved on a 11 ¼ in. x 15 1/16 in. metal print. Engraving is a form of art by which an artist handles sharp metal tools to make small incisions into a metal engraving plate. The incisions resemble stroke marks and once they are made they are filled with ink to reveal a picture. This technique creates the final product called a print.

This artwork was inspired by a series of pieces that Michelangelo drew in black chalk
that depicted the myth of “The Punishment of Tityus”. The symbolic meaning behind this
painting is that actions have consequences and that indulging in your immediate desires
can bring punishment. In the case of Tityus, according to Apollodorus’ Library,
B5, the giant wanted to indulge in his lustful desire to have sex with Leto, the mother of
Artemis and Apollo. These lustful desires are a part of human nature and can’t
necessarily be prevented, however, acting upon them can. Tityus ignored his morals and
attempted to rape Leto, but was impeded by her defending children, Artemis and Apollo.
Because Tityus committed this act of hubris against Leto, Zeus condemned him to eternal
punishment in the underworld by chaining the giant to a rock and allowing vultures to
peck out his organs, only for them to regenerate. This punishment repeats itself every day
for eternity. We can translate this symbolism into our everyday lives by living with a
code of morals and not giving into in our unethical indulgences. Considering
Apollodorus’ account and Nicolas Beatrizet’s depiction of the myth, I believe the
painting symbolizes the relationship of crime and punishment.

The classical mythical elements that Beatrizet depicts in his artwork is a translation of
the story of the Punishment of Tityus. According to Apollodorus’ Library, B5,
Tityus was son of Zeus and Elare. When Zeus impregnated Elara he hid her deep within
the earth in fear that Hera, Zeus’s wife, would discover the affair. While Elare was in
hiding she gave birth to Zeus’s son, Tityus. According to Dina G. Tiniakos and the other
contributing authors to Tityus: A Forgotten Myth of Liver Regeneration, Tityus was a monstrous sized baby who had to be brought up by Gaia, mother earth. As Tityus came to adulthood, he grew into a giant. One day Tityus crossed paths with the goddess Leto and had a surge of lustful desires. Tityus gave into these indulgences and attempted to assault and rape the goddess Leto. Tiniakos notes that some other accounts of the myth suggest that this was Hera’s influence due to her nature to inflict punishment upon Zeus’ mistresses or bastard children. Nonetheless, Leto called out to her children, Apollo and Artemis, to rescue her from the giant’s assault. Artemis and Apollo attempted to kill Tityus by shooting the giant with their arrows, however, Tityus was immortal. Although the giant was not killed he was impeded in his actions and Leto was saved by her children. The giant’s immortality did not excuse punishment however, and Zeus deemed Tityus to be punished in the underworld indefinitely by in Apollodorus’ account, having his heart pecked out by vultures, and in Tiniakos’ account, his liver pecked out by vultures. However, in all accounts Tityus’ organs regenerate so the cycle repeats over and over, indefinitely.

Apollodorus. Apollodorus, Library . Pg. 20 B5, 1.4. (1st or 2nd c. AD, wrote in Greek)
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Tiniakos, Dina G., Apostolos Kandilis, and Stephen A. Geller. “Tityus: A Forgotten Myth of
Liver Regeneration.” Journal of Hepatology 53, no. 2 (April 27, 2010): 357-61.

Unknown, Author. “Artist Results.” Blanton Museum of Art Online Collections Database.
April 26, 2019.

Unknown, Author. “Prints from the Leo Steinberg Collection, Part 1.” Blanton Museum of
Art. June 28, 2016. April 26, 2019.

Written by Lauren Schouest