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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

Dutch, 1606 - 1669
Jupiter and Antiope
Etching with burin and drypoint

5 x 8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the
Brown Foundation Accessions Endowment Fund

Arts of Europe

Seventeenth-century connoisseurs prized Rembrandt's etchings as much as they did his oil paintings. Jupiter and Antiope is the most powerfully erotic etching of his late period. Rembrandt created approximately 290 etchings, many postcard-size or smaller, depicting landscapes, portraits, and biblical, mythological, and genre scenes. Jupiter and Antiope is one of only a handful of his prints illustrating explicitly sexual content.

According to Roman legend, the god Jupiter was so entranced by the beauty of the princess Antiope that he disguised himself as a satyr and took her by force. Here, Rembrandt illustrates the moment before Jupiter wakes the princess, who reclines in a highly artificial pose. The satyr conforms to the conventional appearance of the creature, but the face is undoubtedly that of Rembrandt himself. Pulling away the sheet, he voyeuristically admires Antiope's body.

Jupiter and Antiope is also the artist's last rendering of a story from classical mythology. By incorporating large white areas of negative space, Rembrandt intensifies the gentle, dreamlike eroticism of the subject. This print borrows heavily from Annibale Carracci's depiction of the myth, and, in turn, Rembrandt's rendering later inspired one of Pablo Picasso's most famous prints, Faun Unveiling a Sleeping Girl.