Rembrandt van Rijn

Made three decades after The Abduction of Ganymede, on view nearby, Diana and Actaeon exemplifies the reduced, angular manner of drawing that Rembrandt developed in his late works. At left, Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, is bathing in the company of her nymphs. The group is observed by the young mortal Actaeon, who stands on an elevated bank at right, behind a large tree trunk. As described by the Roman poet Ovid, Diana punishes Actaeon’s voyeurism by transforming him into a stag. In this sheet, Rembrandt simultaneously portrays the moment when the goddess realizes that she has been observed and the subsequent punishment, showing Actaeon as part human and part animal, with his face transformed into a muzzle and antlers sprouting from his head.

Rembrandt van Rijn
Dutch, 1606–1669
Diana and Actaeon, 1663–65
Pen and brush and brown ink, with traces of white opaque watercolor
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, INV. NO. C 1384
© Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Photo: Herbert Boswank