Study of Dosso Dossi's Jupiter, Mercury and Virtue Essay

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Study of Dosso Dossi’s Jupiter, Mercury and Virtue
Dosso Dossi (c.1486-1542) was a Renaissance painter from the city of Ferrara in Northern Italy. Collaborating with his brother Battista, Dosso created some of the most groundbreaking yet baffling works for the dukes of Ferrara. Dosso’s paintings, however, remained largely unheard of apart from occasional appearances in academic journals, until a series of traveling exhibitions in 1999 brought the artist back in attention. Heavily influenced by High Renaissance masters Leonardo and Michelangelo, as well as by Venetian painters, Dosso adopted a rich yet still subtle colour palette. What set him apart from his peers, on the other hand, were his atmospheric and “impressionistic” landscape
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The effect is particularly striking on Virtue’s shortened right arm, which alludes to the space beyond the principal plane.
Above all, the most distinctive feature in Dosso’s painting is its imaginative treatment of mythological subjects. As indicated by a good number of art historians, Virtue, here personified as a goddess, turns out to have been mistreated and abused by Fortune and her companions. Virtue’s friends, who were unable to protect her and thus fled, left her to be “beaten, stripped bare, and dragged through the mud” (Fiorenza, 152) by Fortune and her fellow bullies. Immediately following Virtue’s mistreatment is the scene depicted on canvas: Virtue comes to Jupiter to inform him of Fortune’s crime, when she is given the trivial excuse that the gods are busy making sure that the butterflies have beautifully painted wings.
Amusingly, this brief background story is practically the only part that the art historians agreed upon. Early interpretations include a complicated love story between Mercury and Virtue, as well as the possible allusion that Jupiter is in fact a portrait of Duke Alfonso I d’Este, the commissioner of the painting. (Fiorenza, 29) Some even suggested the painting was created to celebrate the artist’s

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