Mercury Transforming Chelone into a Turtle
59 cm x 71.2 cm (23 1/4 in. x 28 1/16 in.)
(Rome, Italy, 1623 - 1694, Rome, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Mercury, here seen in his winged hat, invited all gods, humans, and animals to his father Jupiter’s wedding to the goddess Juno. Everyone came, except the nymph Chelone, who mocked the union. Enraged by her arrogance, Mercury threw Chelone’s house into the river and turned her into a turtle. This painting diverges from the popular version of the story and presents Juno as the protagonist who condemns Chelone. Mercury occupies a secondary place behind the seated Jupiter. Cupid, the god of love, evokes the nuptial context of the scene, which is also highlighted by the youthful features of Jupiter and Juno.
The oval shape of the canvas likely indicates that it was a decorative painting to be placed over a doorway or a window. Filippo Lauri was renowned for depicting landscapes, architecture, flowers, and animals to embellish important palaces in Rome.