RYCKERE, Bernaert de
(b. ca. 1535, Courtrai, d. 1590, Courtrai)

Diana Turns Actaeon into a Stag

Oil on panel, 48 x 71 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

The story with Diana and Actaeon was a favourite with the late Mannerist painters. This is understandable, because the myth, particularly in Ovid's playful, witty and lively presentation, contains both stimulatingly erotic and shivering horror story elements and thus was perfectly suited for the contemporary spirit. In Ryckere's painting, the nymphs, interrupted in their bath and toilette, turn toward the wandering hunter who descends toward their hiding place on a staircase carved into rock. The change in him is already beginning and the water of the spring scattered on him has made his head turn into that of an antlered deer. However, the action remains weightless, the painting is in fact a landscape decorated with puppet-like figures.

The painting is signed on the rock at left: 1582 B. D. Ryckere.