(b. 1707, Venezia, d. 1769, Venezia)

The Sacrifice of Iphigenia

c. 1749
Oil on canvas, 46 x 59 cm
Private collection

This painting is the only known bozzetto for Fontebasso's vast ceiling canvas for the Palazzo Contarini a San Beneto, Venice, where it is still visible in situ.

In the Greek mythology Iphigenia was the daughter of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae. Her father lead the Greek forces against Troy. The expedition was at first prevented from sailing by unfavourable winds, so Agamemnon consulted a seer, Calchas. He was told that, because he had killed a stag sacred to Diana, he must propitiate the goddess by sacrificing his daughter to her. Iphigenia accepted her fate out of patriotic motives. According to some, at the last moment Diana substituted a stag for the human victim and carried Iphigenia away to be her priestess. The winds changed and the Greeks were able to sail.