Ovid’s Metamorphoses was one of Claude’s favorite sources for inspiration and subject matter. In this case, he depicts the tale of Apollo being forced to serve as a shepherd to King Admetus as punishment for killing the cyclops. While the god plays his pipes at lower right, the flock he is supposed to be guarding wanders off and is stolen by Mercury, in the left background. This bucolic scene, worked up to an exceptional degree of finish with delicate white highlights, is an independent drawing, although it was executed around the time Claude made two paintings of the subject.
Watermark: none visible through lining.