RENI, Guido
(b. 1575, Calvenzano, d. 1642, Bologna)

Atalanta and Hippomenes

Oil on canvas, 191 x 264 cm
Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples

This composition is calculated and refined. It highlights the contradictory gestures of the unbeatable athlete Atalanta bending down to pick up the golden apple dropped by Hippomenes. Thanks to his stratagem, the youth is about to win the contest. The idea of movement is rendered almost exclusively by the billowing cloaks. The ivory smooth bodies of the two contestants clearly stand out remarkably against the gray-brown background.

There are two versions of this paining, one in Naples and another in Madrid, and recently there have been heated debates about both their autography and dating. While most scholars recognize the Madrid canvas as an autograph work, there have been serious reservations about the Neapolitan canvas, deemed it a workshop copy.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 12 minutes):
George Frideric Handel: Atalanta, Act 3 (excerpts)