Lecture | Dr Barbara Gaehtgens on Rembrandt’s Abduction of Ganymede | Sydney Intellectual History Network

Looking Closely: Interpreting Rembrandt’s Abduction of Ganymede

Dr Barbara Gaehtgens

Rembrandt van Rijn, The abduction of Ganymede, 1635, Gemaldegalerie, Dresden

An ‘Undoing the Ancient’ FASS Collaborative Research Group Event Special Lecture by Dr Barbara Gaehtgens

The abduction of Ganymede 1635 – an early work by Rembrandt van Rijn – has puzzled many generations of Rembrandt scholars. The painting illustrates the classical Greek myth of the abduction of Ganymede, most beautiful of male mortals, by an eagle-guised Zeus, who desires the beautiful youth as his cup bearer. The theme was not new in art and had been represented by many other artists, including Michelangelo and Peter Paul Rubens. Rembrandt’s representation is unusual, however, in that Ganymede is not a beautiful, ephebic nude but a screaming, urinating toddler, dressed in a linen smock, who is squirming to free himself from the scarf in which the eagle is carrying him.

An independent art historian based in Los Angeles, Dr Barbara Gaehtgensmade her mark in art history with her book titled Deutscher Kunstverlag (1987) about Adriaen van der Werff, a painter who is little known today but in his time was among the most famous Dutch artists in Europe. She has also written numerous book essays and articles on Dutch, German and French art, in addition to editing a book on genre painting and co-authoring a book on the 19th-century German painter Max Liebermann. Her special interest is the relation between art and politics, and her talk on Rembrandt’s Ganymede will demonstrate that this strange painting may have a political significance.

Date: 2-3:30pm, Monday 24th February, 2014

Venue: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Website and Bookings: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/calendar/looking-closely/