CANOVA Antonio (école de)

marbre blanc H. 148 cm ; l. 70 cm ; P. 42 cm ; VOLUM. 0,4351
inv. 368
legs Marmottan Paul (testateur) (1932 acquis)
This episode from the story of Ganymede draws in particular from the narrative in book X of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. According to the legend, the young man was carried away by an eagle when he was guarding his father’s flocks on Mount Ida (hence the dog and the crook carried by the young man; the Phrygian cap here can be explained by the versions that made Ganymede an inhabitant of Phrygia). The eagle turned out to be the god Jupiter, who took the young man away and made him the cupbearer to the gods in the place of the goddess Hebe. This group comes from the Château de la Muette, which belonged to Sébastien Érard, one of the most important piano-makers of the day and a renowned collector. The sale of his paintings in 1831 comprised nearly 260 items. None of his sculptures were included in this auction, and it may be assumed that they were kept in the château until the sale of the count of Franqueville, a descendant of the family, in 1920. In old documents the work is often attributed to Canova, albeit without proof (success breeds success), and despite the fact that other sculptors of the period also dealt with the subject. In 1817, for example, the Dane Thorvaldsen showed a young man kneeling and serving a libation to an eagle in a bowl (Copenhagen, Thorvaldsens Museum). The group of figures and the small size of the animals tend to indicate that the work here is adapted from an antique prototype.