|Title||Amarillis Crowning Mirtillo with a Floral Wreath|
|Collection||Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle|
|Artist||Breenbergh, Bartholomeus (Dutch painter, etcher, and draftsman, 1598-1657)|
|Date Earliest||about 1640|
|Date Latest||about 1650|
|Description||The painting illustrates an episode from Giovanni Battista Guarini's play Il Pastor Fido. On the left, the nymph Amarillis crowns the shepherd Mirtillo, who is dressed as a woman kneeling in front of her. Mirtillo adopted this disguise in order to take part in the kissing contest organised among the nymphs. The outcome is watched by a group of shepherdesses sitting among classical ruins, while two of the maidens continue the kissing spree on the right. Bartholomeus Breenbergh's representation of the crowning in a golden dream world captures the combination of courtly gaiety and poetic sentiment characteristic of Guarini's work.|
|Current Accession Number||B.M.122|
|Inscription||front ll 'Breenbergh fecit 16[...]'|
|Subject||literature (Guarini, Il Pastor Fido); figure; landscape; townscape; mythology (Arcadia)|
|Measurements||75.5 x 99.5 cm (estimate)|
|Material||oil on canvas|
|Acquisition Details||Bequeathed by the founders John and Joséphine Bowes 1885.|
|Provenance||Purchased by John and Joséphine Bowes from Rogiers, 1869, 325 francs.|
|Principal Exhibitions||Bartholomeus Breenbergh (1598-1657). Joseph Distributing Corn in Egypt, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, and Bredius Museum, The Hague, 2004 - 2005, cat. no. 8.|
|Publications||Roethlisberger, M., Bartholomeus Breenbergh. The Paintings, Berlin, 1981, cat. no. 212, p. 84; Kettering, A. M., The Dutch Arcadia. Pastoral Art and its Audience in the Golden Age, Montolaire, 1983.|
The subject of the painting was identified by Jennifer Montagu as an illustration of Act 2, scene 1 of Guarini's Il Pastor Fido, first produced at Crema in 1595 and published in 1602, but reprinted, imitated and translated many times. In Guarini's story, the union of the faithless nymph and the faithful shepherd was the means of preserving Arcadia from the ravages announced by the oracles (correspondence, 1973). Dr Montagu also referred to the feathered head-dress worn by Amarillis as a typical stage prop in seventeenth-century Holland.
The painting is signed and dated, although the date is not fully legible. M. Roethlisberger proposed the date 1645, since this work has the large-scale figures, the composition and the increasing interest in history painting that characterises this stage of Breenbergh's career. The classical ruins on the left correspond to the typical imaginary settings favoured by Dutch Italianate landscape painters working in Rome at the time, but Breenbergh also represented the Torre delle Milizie as part of the townscape on the right. The popularity of the subject is evidenced by the near-contemporary versions painted by Anthony Van Dyck (Goteborg) and Van Poelenburg (Bodemuseum, Berlin, cat. no. 956).
By the time John Bowes bought this painting in Paris, Bartholomeus Breenbergh's works, rather popular in eighteenth-century France, had gone out of fashion.
|Rights Owner||The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham|
|Author||Dr Mercedes Cerón|