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Pan and Syrinx
Pan and Syrinx
Oil on canvas
Framed: 123.5 x 159.5 x 12 cm (48 5/8 x 62 13/16 x 4 3/4 in.); Unframed: 106 x 139 cm (41 3/4 x 54 3/4 in.)
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1973.212
Subjects drawn from classical mythology posed a challenge for painters: they demanded skill in depicting the human body in complex poses, as well as knowledge of ancient texts and an ability to interpret them imaginatively. Jean François de Troy’s rich colors and voluptuous figure types were ideal for depicting the sorts of mythological subjects favored by his elite patrons, which generally focused on themes of love. In a myth recounted in the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the nymph Syrinx fled from the lecherous advances of the god Pan. Trapped at the edge of a river, she begged for a way to escape, and the gods transformed her into reeds. Pan later gathered these reeds to form the pan pipes, the musical instrument forever associated with him.
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