Galatea by Raphael
|Courtesy of www.renaissanceart.org|
Galatea rises from a clam shell chariot drawn by two dolphins in the center of the image. She is clad in a flowing red robe and casts her eyes upwards to the heavens. Raphael apparently did not use any one female model but instead crafted together her image to resemble what he believed was an ideal beauty.
She is surrounded by a crowd of mythical creatures whose figures may have been inspired by Michelangelo. A trident is in the process of abducting a sea nymph while another triton sounds an alarm on a conch shell. Putti flying above with Cupid's bow and arrows point down towards Galatea.
The inspiration for the painting is derived from Angelo Poliziano who described Galatea drifting through the sea on her chariot. As she sailed through the water she heard the giant Polyphemus' love song and turned with a smile. Raphael achieved a sense of fluid movement in his rendition that is an extraordinary compliment to the original poetry.
The fresco The Triumph of Galatea still hangs in the Villa Farnesina in the heart of Rome.