Thursday, February 28, 2019

1680s Allegory of Diana Goddess of the Hunt with faithful Dogs

1680s Jacob Huysmans (Flemish artist, c 1633–1696)  Elizabeth Cornwallis (d.1708), Mrs Edward Allen, as Diana the Huntress with her faithful hunting dogs, Syrius & Phocion. . She has a hunting spear, & an animal skin decoration, & feathers in her hair.

Early European portrait artists sometimes painted their contemporaries as allegories.  Allegorical portraits remained popular for several centuries, as they expanded to show the female sitter as a Biblical figure, a Greek or Roman goddess, or nymph or muse in in a rustic setting.  Diana is a Roman goddess of the hunt, the moon, & nature, associated with wild animals & woodland.  Diana was known as the virgin goddess of childbirth & women. Diana was originally considered to be a goddess of the wilderness & of the hunt, a central sport in both Roman & Greek culture. Early Roman inscriptions to Diana celebrated her primarily as a patron of hunters. Diana was often considered to be a goddess associated with fertility & childbirth, & the protection of women during labor.  Her care of infants also extended to the training of both young people & dogs, especially for hunting. Unlike the Greek gods, Roman gods were originally considered to be divine powers of presence that did not necessarily have physical form. The idea of gods having anthropomorphic qualities & human-like personalities & actions developed later, under the influence of Greek & Etruscan religion.  Diana was not only regarded as a goddess of the wilderness & the hunt, but was often worshiped as a patroness of families.

"... people regard Diana & the moon as one & the same. ...her name Diana derives from the fact that she turns darkness into daylight. She is invoked at childbirth because children are born occasionally after seven, or usually after nine, lunar revolutions ..." -- Quintus Lucilius Balbus as recorded by Marcus Tullius Cicero & translated by P.G. Walsh. De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods), Book II, Part ii, Section c.