Artist: Guiseppe Cades
Media: Pen and brown ink; ochre, brown, pink, and grey wash
Date: c. 1780
Dimensions: H 14.5 cm; W 38 cm
“This drawing, dating from the 1780s, was probably the preliminary study for a decorative painting (or perhaps for an engraving) today only known to us through two unsigned drawings. The work is composed of two scenes: in the background, Orpheus charming the birds; in the foreground, a strange allegory which is rather difficult to interpret. A female figure, probably Venus, gestures toward three cupids hammering at an anvil (possibly that of Vulcan). The juxtaposition of these two scenes, with the noisy atmosphere of the one in stark contrast to the musicality of the other, probably derives from a loose and ironic interpretation of Book Ten of Ovid's Metamorphoses (8 AD) in which the Latin poet recounted Orpheus's romantic adventures. The hero, after failing in his attempt to rescue Eurydice from the underworld, retired to Thrace, where he renounced his love of women and dedicated his life to teaching. He taught the men of this part of Greece the art of loving pre-pubescent boys.” Bartolucci S.
Guiseppe Cades was born in 1750. He trained at Rome’s Accademia di San Luca but due to his excessive independence his master resented him and he left. He worked on many projects for the Roman palazzo. By the 1780’s he became a fellow of the Accademia di San Luca, and one of his clients was Catherine the Great of Russia. He died in 1799.