Only a few painters throughout the history of art are unclassifiable due to their unique and singular style, one of these singular cases is the author of the piece we are analyzing here, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Traditionally, the French author has been classified as a neoclassicist painter, but the truth is that Ingres's painting goes much further since his color is rather romanticist and the veracity of his works takes us to the purest realism.
Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867) was the son of a second rate sculptor who soon discovered the artistic talent of his offspring; He studied at the Toulouse Academy and at the end of the century he moved to Paris to study under one of the great artists of his time, Jaques Louis David. In 1806 the artist received a scholarship and moved to Italy to complete his training; There he was able to study the great geniuses of the Renaissance and without a doubt, they left their mark on the artist's painting.
It is preciselyduring his stay in Italy,when the artist makes the work we are analyzing here, en titled Jupiter and Tethys. It is an oil on canvas that the artist painted in 1811 when he was in Rome, just a few years later in 1834, the canvas was acquired by the French State and transferred to the Granet Museum in Aix en Provenze where it is exhibited in today.
The piece represents apart of Homer's Iliad, specifically when Achilles' mother asks Zeus for a favor for her son so that he can defeat the Trojans. Thetis coaxes the father of the gods with caresses while he reminds her of how she had helped him in the past. The scene takes place in Olympus, the abode of the gods, and in the background we can see the presence of Hera, the wife of Zeus, who watches over the scene, aware of her husband's weakness with other women.
The work presents a dichotomy between the muscular body of the god, almost sculptural and reminiscent of some of Michelangelo's figuresin contrast to the flexibility of Thetis, who he coils around her to get closer to Zeus. Precisely this lack of rigor in the body of Achilles' mother was one of the most criticized aspects of the canvas.