Artibus et Historiae no. 71 (XXXVI)

2015, ISSN 0391-9064

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MARCIN FABIAŃSKI - The Iconography of Jupiter Painting Butterflies by Dosso Dossi, that is, Alfonso d’Este’s Dream of Spring (pp. 113-124)

The iconography of the Dosso Jupiter Painting Butterflies, believed to be a disguised portrait of Alfonso I d’Este of Ferrara, was probably based on a programme compiled by a Ferrarese humanist Celio Calcagnini. The author of the invenzione drew his ideas from various passages by Alberti, Ovid, Lucian and those of Caspar Ursinus Velius, known to the educated public at the court. The artist represented Jupiter dreaming of Flora, or spring, symbolized by flower wreaths and butterflies, whose wings are covered by colours as they grow. Rather than painting, the god with closed eyes is actually dreaming, whereas Mercury protects his quiet by making a gesture of silence to Aurora. The latter’s attitude expresses deep respect and obedience. With her right arm she stops the solar chariot hidden behind.

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