SCHMIDT, Martin Johann
(b. 1718, Grafenwörth, d. 1801, Stein)

Diana and Actaeon

1785
Oil on copper, 77 x 55 cm
Narodna galerija Slovenije, Ljubljana

Ovid describes at length (Met. 3:138-253) how the young prince Actaeon, hunting in the forest, stumbled accidentally upon the grotto where Diana and her companion were bathing. To punish him for the glimpse of divine nudity, the goddess turned him into a stag. He was pursued and torn to pieces by his own hounds. The painting depicts when Actaeon has sprouted antlers. He staggers backwards as his own dogs spring at him.

The French influence on Kremser-Schmidt's masterpiece is particularly obvious in the figures of the nymphs, especially the one in the foreground.

The painting is signed and dated at the bottom in the middle: M. J. Schmidt f. / Ao. 1785.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 9 minutes):
Joseph Haydn: The Seasons, Part 3 Autumn, aria and chorus (Hunters' chorus)