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Artist: Jordaens, Jacob 1 of 1

Mercury and Argus, c. early 1640s

Jacob Jordaens

Flemish, 1593-1678
Oil on canvas
47-3/4 x 72-3/4 in. (121.3 x 184.8 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1976.01.P
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

This work is the product of a collaboration between two of the finest painters of seventeenth-century Antwerp. Jordaens executed the figures and cattle; Wildens, a landscape specialist, produced the setting.

The subject is taken from classical mythology. Jupiter, enamored of the beautiful Io, has transformed the woman into a white heifer in order to protect her from the jealousy of Juno. The suspicious Juno, however, gives the heifer to the hundred-eyed Argus to guard. In this scene, Mercury, sent by Jupiter to kill Argus, slyly approaches the watchman after lulling him to sleep with his pipe. Io stands placidly at the right.

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Artist: Jordaens, Jacob 1 of 1