Jan Harmensz. Muller

Like many other artists active in central and northern Europe at the end of the sixteenth century, Muller had a liking for subjects both erotic and esoteric. This drawing focuses on a littleknown passage from Homer’s Odyssey, featuring the brief and tragic love affair between Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture—known as Ceres in Roman mythology—and the young hero Iasion. Here, the artist depicts the moment when the lovers are discovered by Jupiter. As the canopy hanging over the bed flies open, vivid rays of light, emanating from Jupiter, illuminate their entangled bodies. The figures’ oversize limbs and contorted poses, delineated using pen lines that swell and break with a nervous rhythm, are typical of Muller’s early draftsmanship.

Jan Harmensz. Muller
Netherlandish, 1571–1628
Ceres and Iasion Discovered by Jupiter, ca. 1589–90
Pen and black ink, brush and brown wash, heightened with white, partially incised, on reddish prepared paper
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, INV. NO. C 888
© Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Photo: Herbert Boswank