The Birth of Apollo
This engraving was executed by Diana Scultori in Mantua around 1570 after one of the paintings by Giulio Romano now at Windsor Castle. These paintings were undoubtedly part of a mythological series on the birth of the gods produced by the painter around 1535 to decorate the Ducal Palace of Mantua or one of the other palaces that belonged to Duke Federico Gonzaga.
This print portrays Latona, daughter of the Titans and lover of Zeus, giving birth to Apollo and Diana on a barren rock in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea to escape the wrath of Hera, wife of Zeus. Latona’s melancholic pose recalls the ancient statue of the Sleeping Ariadne, rediscovered in Rome in 1512 and housed at the Vatican. A drawing by Giulio Romano (INV 3500, Department of Prints and Drawings) on display at the Louvre may in fact have served directly as a model for the engraving by Diana Scultori. The artist also produced several prints after Romano’s painted decoration of the Ducal Palace of Mantua.
Upon the birth of Apollo, the barren rock became the sacred island of Delos, destined to enjoy great and lasting prosperity. As such, throughout antiquity, it was the seat of a special cult of the Dorian Apollo, considered the most Greek of all gods, and its history was intimately tied to the history of Athens until the Hellenistic period.
This artwork from the Edmond de Rothschild collection will be on display in the Louvre’s Department of Prints and Drawings as of September 2020.
Jean-Gérald Castex, curator, Department of Prints and Drawings, Musée du Louvre
Latona Giving Birth to Apollo and Diana
After Giulio Pippi, known as Giulio Romano (1492 or 1496–1546), by Diana Scultori, or Diana Mantovana (1540–1612), burin, H. 0.26 cm, L. 0.38 cm, about 1570–1575. INV 4409 LR recto, Edmond de Rothschild collection, Musée du Louvre, Paris.
© 2011 Musée du Louvre / Laurent Chastel