Selene and Endymion
Selene and Endymion
Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Siena, Italy
The panel depicts the myth of Selene and Endymion, like told by Apollonius of Rhodes and various other antique writers.
Endymion was a son of Zeus, a handsome shepherd who was said to have lived in Elis or in the Caria region. Selene, goddess of the moon, fell madly in love with beautiful but mortal Endymion and she asked Zeus to put him into an eternal sleep and make him live forever so that he would remain ageless. So, every night, Selene came down with her moon chariot to admire him while he slept.
The painting depicts the moment Selene is admiring sleeping Endymion during the night, just before the sunrise. In the foreground Endymion is lying on the ground sleeping while Selene, bends down to look at him and touches him. In the sky there is the moon chariot, similar to the sun chariot driven by Apollo, which announces the rising dawn. On the ground there are bulls and peasants; some of them are standing, some are sitting on the ground. In the background on the right there is a camp of soldiers with tents, horses and other supplies.
In the 16th century the myth of Endymion was already known in the Sienese artistic culture, as seen in the works of the Piccolomini Library, the painting of Giorgio di Giovanni in Chigi Saracini collection and in the Villa Belcaro’s decorations.
The ancient mythological gods and their love stories were a popular theme in the 16th century, even in Siena where these images took a fairy-tale tone instead of heroic depiction, which was more popular in Rome.
The panel was formerly attributed to Domenico Beccafumi, who was Marco Pino’s master. Supposedly it is one of the early works of the painter, painted in the beginning of the 1540s’ and certainly before his trip to Rome between 1541 and 1551. Perhaps the production of the work was given to Marco Pino in Beccafumi’s workshop and it was strongly linked to the master’s prototypes. His workshop produced sacred and devotional subjects with mythological and profane themes. They were in great demand in the first half of the 16th century also in Siena, where they were often commissioned to decorate the homes of the rich families. This style was developed in the area thanks to famous masters like Pinturicchio, Sodoma and Baldassare Peruzzi.
Marco Pino was born in Siena in 1521. At sixteen he was already in Domenico Beccafumi’s workshop where he had his artistic training and with whom he often collaborated. He assisted his famous works such as the Descent in Limbo (1536, Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale) the frescoes in the Siena Cathedral (1536-1538) and Madonna and Child with Saints (1536-1538) in the oratory of San Bernardino.
Beccafumi’s influence was significant for Pino’s artistic development and he never entirely abandoned the style he learnt from Beccafumi, who was one of the first brilliant Mannerists.
Between 1542 and 1544 he went to Rome, where he painted the Visitation in the church of Santo Spirito. The influence of Michelangelo’s monumental figures and Raphael was already evident in his works. Under the guidance of Perino he painted the frescoes in Sala Paolina of Castel Sant’Angelo and a few years later, between 1548 and 1551 he worked with Daniele da Volterra and painted the frescoes in the chapel of Della Rovere in Trinità dei Monti. He enrolled to Accademia di San Luca and worked on other important decorative works at Palazzo Farnese and Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne.
In 1552 he went to Naples and in 1557 he began to work in the abbey of Montecassino. He painted an altarpiece with Madonna and Child with Saints John and Andrew for the monastery of Santa Maria di Monte Albino (Nocera, church of San Bartolomeo) where you can see the influence of his Roman period, the works of Michelangelo, Perin del Vaga and Daniele da Volterra. The same year he painted the frescoes in different halls of the abbey of Montecassino, which were destroyed during the World War II.
He returned to Naples, where he continued to paint his works which were increasingly influenced by the Mannerist style. He mixed Roman and Tuscan styles and enriched his works by taking inspiration from new works, such as those of Polidoro da Caravaggio, which he saw in Naples.
In 1568 Pino returned to Rome. Between 1569 and 1570 he painted the Resurrection of Christ for the Oratory of the Banner, which recalls the paintings of Francesco Salviati as well as those of Taddeo Zuccari. During this period, he worked hard, and he was often helped by his workshop, especially in the execution of large altarpieces. He traveled between Rome and Naples for the next decade.
He died in Naples in 1583.
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Monte dei Paschi di Siena Foundation was established on August 28, 1995 with the conferment of banking activity and it is the oldest bank in the world still operating. The headquarters is in Palazzo Sansedoni of Piazza del Campo, Siena, and the main mission is to carry out philanthropic activities in cultural, artistic and environmental sectors.
The foundation owns and preserves two collections: the collection of Artworks and Malandrini collection of photographs. Both collections can be found on digital version online. The artwork collection includes 57 pieces representing prestigious examples of Sienese art, some of which have been lost for centuries. A special committee of scholars and art historians was set up to identify the works of Sienese school between the 13th and 18th century. Among the artworks there are Segna di Bonaventura’s Madonna with Child Enthroned, St. Bartholomew, St. Ansanus and a Donor, Maestro dell’Osservanza’s Santa Lucia, Brescianino’s Madonna with Child and Little St. John, Ventura Salimbeni’s Santa Cecilia, Francesco Vanni’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Rutilio Manetti’s St. Jerome in Penitence and Bernardo Mei’s Holy Family with Magdalene.
The Malandri collection was named after the founder, photographer Ferruccio Malandrini, and it was established in 1975. The collection includes historical photographs from Siena territory, taken between 1853 and 1950. There are 135 units in the collection. The units consist of different themes, origins and technical and historical characteristics and in total they include 11,389 photographs.