(b. 1671, Cremona, d. 1749, Bologna)
Mercury and Paris1710s
Oil on canvas, 272 x 176 cm
Palazzo d'Accursio, Bologna
The subject of this monumental, larger than life-sized canvas was taken from Homer's Iliad. It was painted in the 1710s as a pendant to the Hermes Bringing the Head of Argos to Hera (Palazzo Comunale, Bologna). The image of the young and classically handsome Greek shepherd is one of the eighteenth century's most sublime scholarly syntheses of ancient and modern figurative culture. It is the successful crossbreeding of two great masters of seventeenth century Bolognese art: Annibale Carracci and Guido Reni, in two masterpieces Creti had long admired. He took up the same spatial arrangement of the figures and the representation of Mercury in flight in the mythological scene Annibale frescoed at the gallery of the Palazzo Farnese in Rome at the turn of the seventeenth century; at the same time he drew on the frontal pose of Reni's Triumph of Samson, a heroic and brazen virile nude painted in the second decade of the seventeenth century.