View full screen - View 1 of Lot 145. The Education of Achilles | L'Education d'Achille.
145

Gustave Moreau

The Education of Achilles | L'Education d'Achille

Estimate:

60,000 - 80,000 EUR

Gustave Moreau

Gustave Moreau

The Education of Achilles | L'Education d'Achille

The Education of Achilles | L'Education d'Achille

Estimate:

60,000 - 80,000 EUR

Lot sold:

63,000

EUR

Gustave Moreau

Paris 1826 - 1898

The Education of Achilles


Signed lower left Gustave Moreau; inscribed on the reverse Vente Butin / Don de Gustave Moreau / 15 Mai 1884

Oil on canvas

33 x 25 cm ; 13 by 9⅞ in.

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Gustave Moreau

Paris 1826 - 1898

L'Education d'Achille


Signé en bas à gauche Gustave Moreau ; inscrit au verso Vente Butin / Don de Gustave Moreau / 15 Mai 1884

Huile sur toile

33 x 25 cm ; 13 by 9⅞ in.

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The present work illustrates a youthful Achilles being mentored in the art of the lyre by the wise centaur Chiron on Mount Pelion in Thessaly.

 

In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War and the main protagonist and finest warrior of Homer's Iliad. Son of the sea nymph Thetis and Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, the demi-god's only weakness was his heel, which would eventually cause his demise in battle.

 

Chiron was wise and scholarly, and the tutor of Greek heroes such as Jason, Asclepius, Theseus, Ajax and Peleus, Achilles' father. Chiron had been rejected at birth by his parents, Zeus' father Cronus and the sea nymph Philyra, and had subsequently been raised by the sun god Apollo, who taught him prophecy, healing, music, poetry, wrestling, swordsmanship and archery. Chiron passed these skills on to his young wards: 'His lofty home bores deep into the mountain, beneath the long, overarching vault of Pelion; part had been hollowed out by toil, part worn away by its own age... but now, a warrior no more, his only toil was to learn the herbs that bring health to creatures doubting of their lives, or to describe to his pupil upon his lyre the heroes of old time' (Pablius Papinius Statius, Achilleid, Book 1).

 

Gustave Moreau's oeuvre reflected his love of mythological subjects. Steeped in classical culture from an early age, Moreau used his extensive knowledge of Greek and Roman myth to create a rich visual language that is both archaic and modern. The blissful lyricism of the present work is a celebration of the art of music, represented by Chiron teaching Achilles to play the lute, an instrument associated with the Apollonian virtues of moderation and equilibrium. Just as Chiron represents the integration of human culture and intellect with our bestial instincts and violent nature, Moreau 'explored the theme of humankind's potential for evil... [And] wedded the insights of ancient myths with those of Darwinist explanation to convey the epic battle between the body's basest passions and the soul's loftiest aspirations' (G. Lacambre, L. Feinberg, M.-L. de Contenson & D. Druick, Gustave Moreau, 1999, p. 36).


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Gustave Moreau représente dans ce tableau le sage centaure Chiron enseignant l’art de la lyre au jeune Achille sur le mont Pélion en Thessalie.


Dans la mythologie grecque, Achille, héros grec et meilleur guerrier de la guerre de Troie, est le principal protagoniste et de l'Iliade d'Homère. Fils de la nymphe de la mer, Thétis, et de Pélée, roi des Myrmidons, la seule faiblesse du demi-dieu était son talon, qui provoquera sa mort lors d’un combat.

 

Chiron, rejeté à la naissance par ses parents, le père de Zeus Cronos et la nymphe de la mer Philyre, est élevé par le dieu solaire Apollon, qui lui enseigne la prophétie, la guérison, la musique, la poésie, la lutte, l'escrime et le tir à l'arc. Devenu sage et érudit, Chiron devient le tuteur des héros grecs tels que Jason, Asclépios, Thésée, Ajax et Pélée, le père d'Achille. Chiron transmet ses compétences à ses jeunes pupilles : « Sa noble demeure s'enfonce profondément dans la montagne, sous la longue et haute voûte du Pélion ; une partie avait été creusée par le labeur, une partie usée par son propre âge... mais maintenant, un guerrier non plus, son seul labeur était d'apprendre les herbes qui apportent la santé aux créatures qui doutent de leur vie, ou de décrire à son élève sur sa lyre les héros d'autrefois » (Pablius Papinius Statius, Achilleid, livre 1).

 

Ce beau tableau de Gustave Moreau reflète son amour des sujets mythologiques. Imprégné de culture classique dès son plus jeune âge, Moreau a utilisé sa connaissance approfondie des mythes grecs et romains pour créer un riche langage visuel à la fois archaïque et moderne. Le lyrisme de la présente œuvre est une célébration de l'art de la musique, représenté par Chiron apprenant à Achille à jouer du lyre, instrument associé aux vertus apolliniennes de modération et d'équilibre. Tout comme Chiron représente l'intégration de la culture et de l'intellect humains à nos instincts bestiaux et notre nature violente, Moreau « a exploré le thème du potentiel maléfique de l'humanité... [Et] a épousé les idées des mythes anciens avec celles de l'explication darwiniste pour évoquer la bataille entre les passions les plus basses du corps et les aspirations les plus hautes de l'âme » (G. Lacambre, L. Feinberg, M.-L. de Contenson & D. Druick, Gustave Moreau, 1999, p. 36).