POUSSIN, Nicolas
(b. 1594, Les Andelys, d. 1665, Roma)

Acis and Galatea

c. 1630
Oil on canvas, 97 x 135 cm
National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Galatea is a Nereid, or sea-nymph, of Sicilian origin. Ovid (Met. 13:750-897) tells how she loved a handsome youth Acis and was herself loved by Polyphemus, a monstrous one-eyed giant, one of the race of Cyclops. The giant set on a promontory overlooking the sea and played a love song to Galatea on his pipes. Afterwards, wandering disconsolately among the rocks, he discovered her lying in the arms of Acis. The couple fled and Polyphemus in a rage flung a great boulder which killed Acis.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 9 minutes):
George Frideric Handel: Acis and Galathea, Sinfonia and chorus