Is this 3D poster based on a painting?
May 19, 2016 8:19 AM   Subscribe

A friend bought a '3D poster' that now proudly hangs in his office. It has become quite a conversation piece and he would like to know if it is based on a well-known Biblical painting or based on Greek or Roman mythology. He would like to know the story of what's depicted. Does anybody recognise it? Thank you in advance.
posted by kryptos to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you post it somewhere that doesn't involve downloading files?
posted by zamboni at 8:21 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, that's a crap link that opens up a big ol page of spam, but you can just hit "view" without needing to download anything. A dedicated image link would be great, though.
posted by phunniemee at 8:24 AM on May 19, 2016

There is a "view" button beside the download one that seemed to work for me.
posted by sardonyx at 8:24 AM on May 19, 2016

Mobile browser shows differently than desktop for the view link, I'm not going to download to my phone, either.
posted by kellyblah at 8:36 AM on May 19, 2016

I can re-upload it somewhere else if OP is fine with that.

OP: Can you tell me if you recognize (or can take a better photo of) the object in the arms of the boy behind the woman?

Does the boy leaning over the divan (stylized ship, given the mermaid figurehead?) on the right-hand side seem to be involved in the clouds(?), or is he gesturing at the woman?

The 'bumps' on the lower right-hand side, are they flowers?
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:39 AM on May 19, 2016

Direct link to image.

It looks like some kind of accusatory scene, with the figures on the right having a beef with the reclining woman (who is in part being shielded by her attendants).
posted by sparklemotion at 8:55 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Direct image link (hopefully)
posted by DarlingBri at 8:58 AM on May 19, 2016

I wonder also if it couldn't be read as depicting Persephone's annual return to the underworld (on the River Styx). The figures on the fight could be longing for her/trying to get her back.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:02 AM on May 19, 2016

This is almost certainly based on another painting, probably something from the 16th-19th centuries. I can't identify the painting, or even what era it comes from. It reminds me a lot of Titian and Reubens, but could be 19th century neo-classical or an Academic pastiche. But there's no way this is just a free-form concept that isn't a copy of a European painting.
posted by Sara C. at 9:19 AM on May 19, 2016

The three figures on the left ore on a boat. the three figures on the right and the one in the foreground have emerged from the water. The things under the figures on the right are stylized lotus flowers and possibly lilypads.

The boat itself has a figure head of a winged putti, and has some odd architectural and shaping touches intended, I think, to convey an "oriental" setting (meaning some fictive locale in Asia and/or India), to a western viewer.

The piece itself looks like it was produced from a casting of an original which may have itself been the bronze that the poster emulates. It's hard to date. My guess it that the original piece was produced by a European artist likely in Europe some time in the last half of the 19th century.

I do think the scene depicted is a representation of a specific event in some sort of a story, an event whch is supernatural and therefore intended to have mythic overtones, and may possibly therefore be from a folkloric or classical myth.

However, the seemingly European depiction of an Eastern setting makes this somewhat more difficult to track down, as the integration of Eastern motifs into Western art was (is) often done quite freely and without rigor. The artist could, for example, be working from a piece of Western fiction which uses an Eastern setting, as seen in Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado.

Additionally, the use of Eastern motifs may be simply decorative and not intended to locate the event shown in an Oriental setting at all.

I am sorry I haven't been able to identify the scene's source. If your coworker could provide an originating artist's name and preferably a title for the work, it should be easy to locate more info, but as you did not mention these I assume they are not available.

Where did they get the work? Is the merchant or manufacturer online?

Hope this helps.
posted by mwhybark at 9:23 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I see how the figurehead could be read as a mermaid, the curlicues that are visible under the torso resemble a stylized fishtail. Also the figurehead is more heavily muscled than a putti, so I am not as sure of that reading as I sound above.
posted by mwhybark at 9:27 AM on May 19, 2016

mwhybark: "The boat itself has a figure head of a winged putti, and has some odd architectural and shaping touches intended, I think, to convey an "oriental" setting (meaning some fictive locale in Asia and/or India), to a western viewer. "

The flowers on the lower-right also look 'Eastern,' perhaps meant to represent lotuses in Egypt or India.
posted by crazy with stars at 9:39 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know a specific work this looks like but Venus and Mars being caught in flagrante by Vulcan shows up all the time. Maybe that story?
posted by Wretch729 at 9:44 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

casual poking around image search results appears to reveal an arts association between the lotus and naiads, greek-mythos water nymphs. I did not locate textual support for that association, though.
posted by mwhybark at 9:47 AM on May 19, 2016

Per mwhybark, this doesn't look like any 19th century Orientalist painting I've ever seen (they usually don't have putti, stylized botanicals, or those rigid 16th-17th century hairstyles), but I could definitely be wrong about that.
posted by Sara C. at 9:53 AM on May 19, 2016

mwhybark and all,
Thank you very much for the interesting discussion of the art piece. My friend picked it up from a second-hand shop and said it is probably made of polyresin. And no, he hasn't got an artist name or title for the piece. Here is another view of it that might make some details clearer. Is the figure on the left holding a scroll? Or could it be a dagger? Could it be another clue?
And on the right, the center figure is throwing up his hands questioningly as if asking "What is all this? What's happening? "
posted by kryptos at 8:31 PM on May 19, 2016

I had thought the figure on the left is the oarswoman, and she is holding the cylindrical butt of the oar. There are some perspective projection issues with this interpretation.
posted by mwhybark at 2:43 AM on May 20, 2016

Seeing your new shot, the cylinder is less likely an oar than I had thought.

What is the general geographic locale of the shop? Asia, Europe, South or North America?

The more I think about this the more certain I am that it's a cast of an extant bronze, probably from a mythological subject, probably not in the original a copy or reinterpretation of another artist's work in another medium.

After really thinking about it, I still think this is late 19th century. The drapery emulates aspects of both some Renaissance and Hellenistic work, but there's simply more stuff made between 1840-1900 than survives from the other possible eras, so it's most likely to be from the more recent era and unknown to me.

Is there ANY sort of manufacturer's tag on the piece? It seems fairly large, and maybe fairly pricey even as a resin cast.
posted by mwhybark at 3:00 AM on May 20, 2016

The relief bears more than a passing resemblance to William Etty's The Coral Finder: Venus and Her Youthful Satellites (1830). I suppose that's Cupid sprinkling the flowers.

That's the best I could do.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 9:17 AM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hi mwhybark and Short Attention Sp et al,
Thanks ever so much. My freind bought it from a curios shop in Vietnam selling 'pre-loved' items. At least now he will be able to tell more of the piece when his visitors ask about it.
I think Short Attention Sp nailed it . I am sure my friend can live with not knowing the actual source of the piece, but knows what it is supposed to depict.
Thanks again. Cheers and have a nice weekend.
posted by kryptos at 8:36 PM on May 20, 2016

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