Orpheus with Animals in a Landscape

Wenzel Lorenz Reiner

Wenzel Lorenz Reiner - Orpheus with Animals in a Landscape
This representation of Orpheus turns back to the ancient myth of a man, who introduced peace and harmony in nature with his music. At the same time, Orpheus is a parallel of Christ as the Good Shepherd, for his taming of the animals with his music was likened to Christ’s influence on sinners, whereas the wild animals tamed by Orpheus’ play were interpreted as people succumbing to various passions and vices. This popular theme had largely lost its hidden meaning in the Baroque period, and it mostly focused on an artistically attractive depiction of different species of animals in a landscape. In his compositional design, Reiner followed his predecessor Michael Leopold Willmann and his work of the same subject. It was probably a direct commission from the Nostitz family, whose collections had included this painting. The painter may have projected the features of the aristocratic patron into the appearance of Orpheus, and the image could also be interpreted as an allegorized crypto-portrait, a portrait historié.
date:
measurements: height 199 cm
width 167 cm
material: canvas
technique: oil
inventory number: DO 4286
gallery collection: Collection of Old Masters
licence: Creative Commons License public domain