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Orpheus asks Hades and Persephone to release Eurydice János Donát

Artist

János Donát Klosterneuzell, 1744 – Pest [Budapest], 1830

Date 1819
Object type painting
Medium, technique canvas, oil
Dimensions

134 × 151.5 cm

Inventory number 92.12T
Collection Collection of Paintings
On view This artwork is on view at the permanent exhibition

János Donát, a painter of German lineage settled in Pest in 1812 upon the invitation of the writer Ferenc Kazinczy, after spending nearly twenty years in Vienna during which he had acquired a considerable fame. Until his death in 1830 he painted the portraits of several prominent figures of Hungarian public life. Though the bulk of his rich oeuvre consists of portraits, he also painted several religious compositions, nudes, and mythological subjects. Orpheus Begging Hades and Persephone to Return Eurydice was created in Pest in 1819 on the commission of an unknown person. The picture tells a popular story of Greek mythology: Orpheus would like to reclaim his wife Eurydice who was mortally bitten by a serpent. The gods of the underworld promise to comply on the condition that he would not turn back on the way leading out into the world. Orpheus, however, cannot keep his promise and thus loses his beloved wife for ever. The picture shows the moment when Orpheus plays his lute to Hades and his wife who are charmed by his music and therefore agree to fulfil Orpheus’s request. Multi-figural compositions are rare in Donát’s works, which probably explains the rigidity of the picture and the slight clumsiness of drawing. Still, the work has an important role in early nineteenth-century Hungarian art as it marks the end of the two centuries long predominance of the baroque and the ascendancy of neo-classicism in all genres of art. | Zsuzsanna Bakó

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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