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Damiano Mazza


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The Rape of Ganymede

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Featured Art - The Rape of Ganymede by Damiano Mazza

The Rape of Ganymede

Damiano Mazza

Damiano Mazza was an Italian Renaissance artist, active during the 16th century. He lived in the Venetian city of Padua, 40 km west of Venice. It is known that he studied under Titian.[1]


The Rape of Ganymede

The Rape of Ganymede is Mazza's best-known painting, and depicts the legendary account of an eagle (either the Aetos Dios or a manifestation of Zeus himself) kidnapping the handsome Ganymede and taking him to Mount Olympus to serve as both Zeus' lover and as cupbearer to the gods.

Some legends speak of Zeus' eagle kidnapping Ganymede:

"Ganymede was a beautiful Trojan prince who caught the eye of Zeus. Zeus sent His eagle down to bring Ganymede to Olympus to be His cup-bearer." - an excerpt from the Hellenic Temple of Apollon, Zeus, and Pan[2]

While other accounts speak of the eagle actually being Zeus himself, transformed into the eagle to carry out this task:

"Ganymede, a handsome boy, excited the passion of Zeus who, in the guise of an eagle, bore him away to Mount Olympus." - an excerpt from "The Encyclopedia of Mythology" by Arthur Cotterell.[3][4]

The painting originally adorned the ceiling for a distinguished lawyer in Mazza's home city of Padua. The subject, Ganymede Abducted by the Eagle (circa 1531), had been previously painted by Antonio da Correggio for the Duke of Mantua. The exact date of Mazza's painting is not known, but he was an "active" painter between 1573 and 1590 and so the painting's date will be somewhere in the late 16th century. Its original size is 177 cm x 186.6 cm (69.7in x 73.5in) and was painted on canvas using oils. The painting now hangs in the National Gallery, London.

In the late 17th century the "Rape of Ganymede" was erroneously ascribed to Titian.[5]

Damiano also painted an icon of the Madonna for the Santuario della Beata Vergine della Porta in Guastalla.

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