The J. Paul Getty Museum

Orpheus Charming the Animals

Object Details

Title:

Orpheus Charming the Animals

Artist/Maker:

Josias Murer II (Swiss, 1564 - 1630)

Culture:

Swiss

Date:

about 1600

Medium:

Black ink and brown wash on paper

Object Number:

2001.22

Dimensions:

22.9 × 18.6 cm (9 × 7 5/16 in.)

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Object Description

According to Greek myth, the poet Orpheus played the lyre with such magical sweetness that he charmed the animals, birds, and reptiles that gathered around him, subduing their innate hostilities. Orpheus sits in the center of the drawing focused on his music, while around him birds perch overhead, a frog, lizard, and pair of doves crouch at his feet, and horses, deer, an elephant, a goat, and a unicorn draw near.

Josias Murer belonged to a family of Swiss glass-painters who worked in and around Zurich in the late 1500s. Scholars know that he produced this drawing as a design for a stained-glass panel, since Murer left a blank border around the composition. No panel with this illustration still survives.

The theme of Orpheus charming the animals was one of the most popular among artists living in Northern Europe in the 1500s and 1600s. During this era of intense political upheaval and religious strife, the story came to express the hope in the power of art and poetry to conquer, and even resolve, irreconcilable conflict.

Provenance
Provenance
1902

Karl Ewald Hasse (L.860, L.861), German, 1810 - 1902, probably by inheritance to his daughter Marianne and son-in-law Professor Ernst Ehlers.

1902-1930

Probably Ernst Ehlers, German, 1835 - 1925 and Marianne Hasse, German, born 1843 [sold, C.G. Boerner, Leipzig, May 9, 1930, lot 401.]

-

Paul Adolf Leeman van Elck (L.2095a), Swiss, 1884 - after 1940

-

Hans Rohr (Zürich, Switzerland)

2001

Laube and Co. (Zürich, Switzerland), sold to the J.Paul Getty Museum, 2001.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Made for Manufacture: Drawings for Sculpture and the Decorative Arts (February 6 to May 20, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 6 to May 20, 2007
Made for Manufacture: Drawings for Sculpture and the Decorative Arts (March 31 to July 5, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 31 to July 5, 2009
Renaissance Drawings from Germany and Switzerland, 1470-1600 (March 27 to June 17, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 27 to June 17, 2012
Bibliography
Bibliography

Ulrich, Werner. "Ehlers, Ernst." In Neue Deutsche Biographie, Vol. 4 (1959), p. 346 f.

C.G. Boerner, Leipzig. Handzeichnungen alter Meister des XV. bis XVIII. Jahrhunderts, May 9-10, 1930, p. 74, lot 401.