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Angelica Kauffmann, R.A. (Coire 1740-1807 Rome)
Angelica Kauffmann, R.A. (Coire 1740-1807 Rome)

Ariadne abandoned by Theseus; and Sappho inspired by love

Details
Angelica Kauffmann, R.A. (Coire 1740-1807 Rome)
Ariadne abandoned by Theseus; and Sappho inspired by love
oil on canvas
28 x 35in. (71 x 89cm.)
A Pair (2) (2)
Literature
B. Baumgärtel, in the catalogue of the exhibition Angelika Kauffmann, Kunstmuseum Dusseldorf, Haus der Kunst, Munich, and BunderKunstmuseum, Coire, 1999, pp. 244-5, under no. 114.

Lot Essay

The Story of Ariadne and Theseus is related by Ovid in his Metamorphoses (VIII:169-173) and by Plutarch in his Lives (I: 19). Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos of Crete, fell in love with Theseus, the legendary Greek hero and son of the King of Athens, and helped him to escape from her father's labyrinth after he had killed the Minotaur by giving him a ball of string which enabled him to retrace his steps. They then fled to the island of Naxos where Theseus deserted her and sailed to Athens where he was to become King.

Sappho, the Greek lyric poetess, was said to have fallen in love with the fisherman Phaon and to have thrown herself off the cliff of Leucas (an island off the west coast of Greece) when he rejected her. The fifteenth letter in Ovid's Heroides, a collection of latin amatory poems in the form of letters addressed by heroines of legend to their lovers or husbands, is from Sappho to Phaon.

A version of Ariadne abandoned by Theseus (88 x 70.5cm.), is in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden (Baumgärtel, op. cit., pp. 410-1, no. 249), and a version of Sappho inspired by love (145.1 x 132.1cm.) is in The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota (Baumgärtel, op.cit., pp. 244-5, no. 114).

We are grateful to Dr. B. Baumgärtel for confirming the attribution having inspected the paintings in person.
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