Orpheus with Animals in a Landscape by Aelbert Cuyp

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Orpheus with Animals in a Landscape by Aelbert Cuyp

Painting NameOrpheus with Animals in a Landscape
Painter NameAelbert Cuyp
Completion Date1640
Size113 x 167 cm
Current LocationPrivate collection

You may have heard about the mystical figure of Orpheus from the Greek mythology. But, I think the background story needs to be told to understand the essence of this artwork.

Orpheus was a proficient poet and musician with the magical ability to mesmerize all living things with his music. It was an incredible expertise for a musician. That’s why, everyone was always so eager to hear him. The legend goes further with the death of his wife. To redeem her from the grip of death, he went to the underworld. By his music, the things living in underworld got mesmerized and allowed him pass all the way to the Hades – the underworld king. Hades heard about his misery and decided to let his wife go on one condition. She had to walk behind him until they reach the living world and Orpheus can’t look back until then. They agreed. But then there is a little twist in the story. When Orpheus reached the living world, he instantly looked back out of curiosity and doubt. Unfortunately, at the moment his wife Eurydice hadn’t passed the edge of the underworld. Thus, she went back into the underworld again, forever. Then after, Orpheus roamed Greece playing gloomy songs.

It is unclear if this painting is of before or after his wife died. But it portrays the magical effect of his music accurately. The wild animals from the nearby jungle have gathered to listen to his music. Both the carnivores and vegetarians are at the same place without hurting each other. That was the power of his music. It is surely the charm of his music which is working upon them. Because even for an animal trainer, it is very hard to gather irreconcilable animals like leopards and goats at one place.

This resembling painting of the myth is made by the Dutch Golden Age artist, Aelbert Cuyp. He was born in 1620 and was admired for his paintings of Dutch countryside. Initially, he was a landscape artist. His paintings have affection towards the bright sunlight, as it can be seen in the most of his paintings.

This oil-on-canvas presentment of an old myth simply resembles the whole story of the main character in a single moment. That is the fundamental skill of an adept painter.


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