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Painting Title Apollo and Coronis
Collection Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Artist Elsheimer, Adam (German painter, 1578-1610, active in Italy)
Date Earliest about 1607
Date Latest about 1608
Description The subject is taken from the Roman poet Ovid (Metamorphoses, II:542-632). The god Apollo killed his unfaithful lover Coronis with an arrow, but afterwards repented and tried to revive her with medicinal herbs. Coronis was pregnant with Apollo's child, and having failed to restore her to life, he saved the infant from her womb before her body was burned (the child, Aesculapius, became the god of healing). With her sensuous pose and warm flesh, Coronis looks more alive than dead. The small scale and jewel-like colours are typical of Elsheimer; so is the interest in unusual lighting effects, such as the red glow of the funeral pyre, the reflections on the surface of the lake, and the body of Coronis itself, mysteriously illuminated although surrounded by deep shadow
Current Accession Number WAG 10329
Subject figure; landscape; mythology (Apollo, Coronis)
Measurements 17.9 x 23.0 cm
Material oil on metal (copper)
Acquisition Details Accepted in lieu of estate duty by HM Government and allocated to the Walker Art Gallery 1982
Provenance Sir Paul Methuen (1672-1757); by descent to his cousin Paul Methuen; Paul Methuen collection, Grosvenor Street, London, then Corsham House; sold Christie's 14 May 1920, lot 17, as The Death of Procris, bought back by Lord Methuen; by descent to Paul Ayshford, 4th Baron Methuen.
Principal Exhibitions British Institution, London, 1857, cat. no. 102, as The Death of Procris; Early German Art, Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1906, cat. no. 66, as The Death of Procris; Exhibition of 17th-Century Art in Europe, Royal Academy, London, 1938, cat. no. 257, as The Death of Procris; Artists in 17th-Century Rome, Wildenstein, London, 1955, cat. no. 42; Adam Elsheimer, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt-am-Main, 1966-1967, cat. no. 35; Fiamminghi a Roma 1508-1608, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, and Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, 1995, cat. no. 83; The Genius of Rome 1592-1623, Royal Academy, London, 2001, cat. no. 77; Adam Elsheimer 1578-1610, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt-am-Main, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, and Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 2006, cat. no. 31.
Publications Martyn, T., The English Connoisseur, vol. 2, London, 1766, p. 31; Holzinger, E., 'Elsheimers Realismus', Münchner Jahrbuch der Bildenden Kunst, vol. 2, 1951, p. 216; Waddingham, M., 'Elsheimer Revised', Burlington Magazine, vol. 114, no. 834, 1972, pp. 609-610; Andrews, K., Adam Elsheimer, Oxford, 1977, p. 33, p. 151, cat. no. 21; Morris, E., and Evans, M., Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool: Supplementary Foreign Catalogue, Liverpool, 1984, pp. 3-6, p. 69; Andrews, K., Adam Elsheimer, Munich, 1985, pp. 186-187, cat. no. 21, fig. 79; Fiamminghi a Roma 1508-1608, Brussels, 1995, p. 180, cat. no. 83; Klessmann, R., Adam Elsheimer 1578-1610, Edinburgh, 2006, pp. 156-159, pp. 198-199, p. 205, cat. no. 31.

The composition of WAG 10329 is known to be by Elsheimer because an engraving of it by Magdalena de Passe, made before 1638 and published in 1667, names him as the artist. The subject was identified as The Death of Procris by de Passe, and it continued to be so described until Holzinger (1951) argued that in fact it represents the story of Apollo and Coronis. The background is reminiscent of Elsheimer's painting of Tobias and the Angel in Frankfurt, an engraving of which was made in 1608, thus giving an approximate date for WAG 10329.

Numerous versions of Elsheimer's Apollo and Coronis exist (there is a list in Weizsäcker, H., Adam Elsheimer der Maler von Frankfurt

Martyn (1766) records WAG 10329 as being in the Grosvenor Street house of Sir Paul Methuen in that year. Emilie E. S. Gordenker, in Klessman (2006), suggests that it may have belonged previously to Thomas Newport, Baron Torrington, who in 1715 owned "A Naked Woman sleeping with other figures" by Elsheimer.

In 1992 Gisela Severin observed an extensive (but faint and fragmentary) inscription on the back of WAG 10329, incised into the copper with the letters in reverse. This suggests that the support is a reused printing plate.

Rights Owner National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery
Author Joseph Sharples



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