Orpheus and Eurydice
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Gift of William P. Garred

Jean Raoux
French, about 1709
Oil on canvas

81 x 80 in.

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In the center of the picture, Orpheus happily pulls along his wife Eurydice after having won her release from Hades by his enchanting violin playing. Pluto, ruler of Hades, and his wife Proserpine observe their departure from the upper left. The three Fates ominously spin the future at the left, foreshadowing Orpheus's eventual unhappiness. He broke the one condition that Proserpine had set for Eurydice's return to earth: he could not look at her until their arrival. On reaching earthly light, Orpheus could not resist a glimpse, so Eurydice vanished forever.

Jean Raoux painted the scene in a highly theatrical manner, spotlighting the figures and arranging them as if on a stage. The action seems especially compressed because the canvas was cut down on all sides early in the twentieth century.