20 June 2012

Leda and the Swan

Giovanni Rapiti

She was known as the Queen of Sparta, charmed by the Father of Gods and men disguised as a large water bird.

« Leda and the Swan is a story and subject in art from Greek mythology in which the god Zeus seduced, or raped, Leda in the form of a swan.

The subject undoubtedly owed its sixteenth-century popularity to the paradox that it was considered more acceptable to depict a woman in the act of copulation with a swan than with a man. The earliest depictions show the pair love-making with some explicitness—more so than in any depictions of a human pair made by artists of high quality in the same period.

The earliest known explicit Renaissance depiction is one of the many woodcut illustrations to Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a book published in Venice in 1499. This shows Leda and the Swan making love with gusto.»

More: Leda and the Swan at Wikipedia

[French School]

 Leon Reisener

Jacopo Pontormo

 Buonarroti Michelangelo

Emmanuel Benner


Giovanni Boldini

  Jerzy Hulewicz

 Joseph Stella

 [Lladro porcelain figurine]

 [attributed to] Luca Cambiasi

   Man Ray

Paolo Veronese

Leonardo da Vinci [detail]

François Edouard Picot

François Boucher

Michel Fingesten

Roger Grillon

Louis Jou

Paul Delvaux

Theodore Gericault

Paul Prosper Tillier

Marcel Bouraine

Leda and the Swan, poem by William Butler Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still            
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed            
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,            
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.             

How can those terrified vague fingers push            
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?            
And how can body, laid in that white rush,            
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?             

A shudder in the loins engenders there            
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower            
And Agamemnon dead. Being so caught up,     
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,            
Did she put on his knowledge with his power            
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?


The following information may answer the question: their consummation resulted in 2 eggs from which hatched Helen (later known as the beautiful Helen of Troy), Clytemnestra, Castor, Pollux.