Pan and Syrinx

Object Details


Pan and Syrinx


Jean-François de Troy (French, 1679 - 1752)




Paris, France (Place created)


1722 - 1724


Oil on canvas


74.3 x 92.1 cm (29 1/4 x 36 1/4 in.)

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As told by the Roman poet Ovid in the Metamorphoses, the lusty satyr Pan eagerly pursued the wood nymph Syrinx. Guarding her virtue, she ran until she reached a river and desperately begged her sisters of the stream to transform her. Just as Pan was about to embrace her, Syrinx changed into cattail reeds. When Pan discovered that he was holding nothing but marsh reeds, he sighed in disappointment, causing the wind to blow through the reeds. He was enchanted by the sound, believing it to be the mournful cry of his beloved Syrinx; from the reeds he fashioned a set of pipes so that he could have her with him always.

In this pendant to Diana and her Nymphs Bathing, Jean-François de Troy represented the climax of the narrative. Syrinx, who is seen both before and after the transformation, looks fearfully at Pan as she falls into the arms of Ladon, the river god. Half in shadow, the river nymphs watch apprehensively and huddle together protectively. As he grasps the clump of cattails, Pan seems near ecstasy. The women's soft, creamy skin contrasts with Pan's dark, muscular torso and the autumnal foliage in the background.

- 1882

possibly Louis-Auguste-Alfred Beurdeley, 1808 - 1882 (Paris, France) [sold, Hôtel Drouot, Commisaire-priseur, Paul Chevallier, Paris, May 24, 1883, lot 56.]

1883 -

possibly Remer

- 1899

Gustave Mühlbacher [sold, Mühlbacher sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 15, 1899, lot 39, for 2,900 francs (with lot 38).]

- 1983

Private Collection [sold, Hôtel Drouot, Commissaire-priseur, Christian Delorme, Paris, June 15, 1983, lot 9, to Galerie Pardo.]

1983 - 1984

Galerie Pardo (Paris, France), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

The Loves of the Gods: French Painting From Watteau to David (October 15, 1991 to August 2, 1992) (Cat. 17)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, (Paris), October 15, 1991 to January 23, 1992
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, (Philadelphia), February 20 to April 26, 1992
  • Kimbell Art Museum, (Fort Worth), May 23 to August 2, 1992
Paris: Life & Luxury (April 26, 2011 to January 2, 2012) (Ex cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), April 26 to August 7, 2011
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 18, 2011 to January 2, 2012

Hôtel Drouot, Paris. Tableaux anciens, belle décoration du temps de Louis XVI dont la vente aura lieu par suite de decès. May 25, 1883 p. 14, lot 56.

Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. Catalogue des tableaux, dessins, gouaches, aquarelles, pastels de l'école française du XVIIIe siècle. May 16-18, 1899 p. 32, lot 39.

Hôtel Drouot, Paris. Tableaux anciens par Diziani, van der Laanen, Ribera, de Troy [...]. June 15, 1983 unpaginated, lot 10, ill.

Bailey, Colin B., et al. The First Painters of the King: French Royal Taste from Louis XIV to the Revolution, exh. cat. Colin Bailey, ed. (New York: Stair Sainty Matthiesen, 1985) p. 58, under no. 3.

Fredericksen, Burton B. "Recent Acquisitions of Paintings: The J. Paul Getty Museum." The Burlington Magazine 127, no. 985 (April 1985) p. 266.

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985) p. 210, no. 139b, ill.

Bordeaux, Jean-Luc. "Jean-François de Troy--Still an Artistic Enigma: Some Observations on His Early Works." Artibus et historiae, no. 20 (1989) pp. 143, 145, 149-53, 168, n. 4, ill.

Bailey, Colin B., et al. The Loves of the Gods: Mythological Painting from Watteau to David, exh. cat. Colin B. Bailey, ed. (Fort Worth: Kimbell Art Museum, 1992) pp. 210-12, 214-15, no. 17, ill.

Bailey, Colin B. et al. Les Amours des Dieux, exh. cat. Colin B. Bailey, ed. Christine Piot et al., trans. (Paris: Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, 1992) pp. 114-16, 118-19, no. 18.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 126, ill.

Leribault, Christophe. Jean-Francois de Troy (1679-1752) (Paris: Arthena, 2002) pp. 248-49, 250, 333, no. P.81, ill.

Zuffi, Stefano. Amore ed erotismo (Milan: Electa, 2008) p. 53, ill.

Zuffi, Stefano. Love and the Erotic in Art. Stephen Sartarelli, trans. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010) p. 53, ill.