Take a look into Atlanta and Meleager

Lebrun, Charles. Atalanta and Meleager. 1658, oil on canvas. 212.5 x 280.5cm. On Display: Walker Artwork Gallery

iconographical assessment

Tale of the painting

This portray is centered on the Greek myth called Atalanta and the Calydonian Boar Hunt. This myth is about the hunt of a boar and the story’s heroes. In this story, there are two important characters, Meleager the chief of the hunt and Atalanta, the female whom the hero falls for her. In some versions of the fantasy Atalanta participates in the hunt.

Inside of the story Calydonia, is a metropolis in which the goddess Artemis, sends in a large and wild boar as a punishment to the king, for not fulfilling his prophecies to her. Meleager then sets out to hunt and eliminate the boar, that was generating destruction to the region. Among the the hunters had been Meleager’s two uncles, an additional was Atalanta, an outstanding hunter, with whom he falls in like with her.

When they last but not least have slayed the Calydonian Boar, and reduce off its head, Meleager desires to present the head, to demonstrate his undying appreciate to Atalanta. But his uncles dislike the plan of girls getting trophies. In retaliation, he kills both of his uncles. This painting is full of iconographical symbolism.

At the pretty leading of the painting, there is a red flowing material that could be a banner, whilst it is tricky to say. This painting sets a scene, with exciting lighting, in which the painter has the surrounding areas, the tonal values of the colours seem to be to be muted, whereas the primary topics in the center, (Atalanta in yellow, and Meleager in crimson cloak) are in much far more saturated colouration. Most of the muted colours are the greenery of the countryside. The symbolism of eco-friendly as mentioned “both daily life and demise in vernal eco-friendly of existence and the furious environmentally friendly of dying.” (Cooper, 1978,) This means that the eco-friendly indicates or probably even foreshadowing that there is death, to assistance this Greek fantasy.

It has a wonderful use of composition, with the rule of thirds, where by every little thing is nicely balanced. So, the eye follows the portray from the prime to the base, like examining a ebook. This will help to established the scene and tell a tale and wanting aesthetically satisfying to the eye.

We see that there are 4 folks in this in a countryside landscape. Two folks on the left, with Atalanta being confirmed the head of a boar by Meleager, with yet another hunter upcoming to him. The boar has an iconographical indicating of “The boar’s head symbolises health and fitness and preservation from danger” (Cooper, 1978, webpage 43). By offering this gift to Atalanta, it is telling her that with the dying of the boar there is no more danger, practically and figuratively. Also exhibiting his love for her.

The countryside has a charming mountain array in the background with distinct tones of blue. With the blue, meanings of have faith in, depth, and calmness. It is really everything but serene in this portray. This has a use of aerial perspective. When looking intently, future to Meleager’s remaining shoulder, there can be observed a pale lifeless physique of a man or woman laying on the rolling hill aspect. His uncles that Meleager has killed, when they disapproved of him symbolizing the boar’s head to Atalanta. His uncles may well have disliked the plan for the reason that “the boar is a masculine principle” (Cooper, 1978, website page 43), this indicates that a trophy of an animal is masculine, and therefore it is un woman-like for Atalanta to have 1. Of training course, with this Meleager disagreed by killing his uncles.

On the foreground of the two remaining and appropriate corner there are two canine on each individual facet. To aid with the tracking of the boar throughout this hunt. As the puppies are a symbolism of fidelity, that means loyalty, the painter may possibly have set them there as a signal of irony. As we get to study in the myth, that Meleager betrays his uncles, the incredibly reverse of fidelity.

There is a pelt of an animal up coming to Atalanta. She is dressed in a stunning yellow costume. The painter has utilised some depth inside the folds of the gown, which delivers out the texture of the gown. The costume also leaves just one of her breasts exposed. But she is not sexualised with this, hunting powerful and not helpless. The publicity of a breast has a symbolic meaning. “The bared breast is humility” (. Cooper, 1978, webpage 50) with this, the painter is expressing that Atalanta is humble, she does not feel she is far better than any person. It represents her in a way that she demands to be rewarded, for Meleager’s enjoy. Also, if she is really at ease with a bared breast surrounded by males. It begs the query of if she would have cared to not get the boar’s head. And with this, sparing the lives of Meleager’s uncles. On her lap, there is a gorgeous blue fabric (a cloak?) on her knees, with exquisite embroidery in all places.

Her still left arm resting on best of a wooden bow. The is what may well be utilized to present who is Atalanta. In Greek mythology, a bow is normally connected with Artemis the goddess of animals and the hunt. Furthermore, this could also suggest the victory of the hunt, with the death of the boar. With Atalanta obtaining a bow, it tells us that she a fantastic huntress and lover of animals. This is further more supported, with two puppies by her toes, wanting protecting of her, and a pelt of an animal driving her. “She issues gender expectations” ( d’Entremont, 2020, page 5) It exhibits that she is not a meek youthful woman, with the know-how of hunting. Which would have been subversive, for a lady of her time.

Although Meleager is dressed in a red cloak and blue tunics. Both of which have golden bejewelled, embroidery together the lining of the clothing. The cloak has a important symbolism of dignity and placement. Telling us, he is a leader of this hunt and has the dignity and with the red the courage to completete his activity. Also keeping a sword upright, employed to get rid of the boar. The sword has the iconographical symbolism of defense and toughness, in which Meleager, actually proves of this during the hunt. What is significant about the sword, is that the blade is not silver but black. This may mean that it references to the deaths of his uncles, possibly in mourning for them, as the colour black is usually the representation of loss of life and mourning. But it could also signify, Meleager’s electric power and energy.


J.C.Cooper, 1978, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Standard Symbols, Place of Publication, Thames & Hudson. ISBN: 978-D-500-01201-7

See u in historical past/mythology, 2021, Meleager and Atalanta: The Hunt for Calidon’s Boar, position of publication, You Tube


Michela d’Entremont, 2020, Gender and Excellence in the fantasy of Atalanta, location of publication, Dalhousie College Halifax, Nova Scotia. Browse pager 1-5, and internet pages 35.

Algernon Charles Swinburne, 1865, Poems and Ballads [and] Atalanta in Calydon, place of publication, The Bobbs-Merill Organization, Inc.

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