- Museum number
- Object: Hebe Jovis Aquilae Nectar minstrans (Hebe holding a cup of Nectar to Jupiter in the form of an Eagle)
The nude Hebe kneeling on the floor, holding an amphora in her left hand and offering a cup containing Nectar to Jupiter in the form of an eagle who is seated on a raised offering basin; proof before letters; column to right; landscape in the distance. 1795-6
- Production date
Height: 554 millimetres
Width: 365 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from Antony Griffiths and Frances Carey, 'German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe', BM 1994, no. 46 :
This print is a proof before letters. According to Nagler, the lettered state reads: "Hebe Jovis Aquilae. Nectar ministrans. Ex pinacotheca privala Francisci II Imperatoris etc. . . . Invenit, pinxit et incidit Igna. Unterberger S.C.M. Pictor a cubic", and bears the address of the publisher Tranquillo Mollo (for whom see 1917,1208.318). Unterberger exhibited the related painting, with figures of life size, in his house in 1795, where it caused a sensation. Meusel gave a long account of it (I 1795 pp.94-7), which is of great interest as it clearly derives from Unterberger's own description. Meusel reported that thousands had made repeated visits to see the painting, and that it was generally held that no picture had ever made a greater impact.
The aspect of the painting (which is now in the Österreichisches Barockmuseum in the Belvedere in Vienna) that most amazed visitors was the handling of the light, which derives from two sources -Jupiter's thunderbolt and the moon. But the tones and colour are further affected by the light transmitted through the translucent alabaster of the bowl of the fountain. A particularly good description of the effect is given by Hirt. Meusel, doubtless echoing Unterberger himself, added that the painting would look its best in a darkened room, lit only by an argon lamp.
Meusel's account of the painting concludes: "Herr Unterberger is now working on a copper plate from his newly invented grounding machine [see 1873,0809.151], and until the end of June will take advance orders for impressions printed both in black and in colour according to the English manner. The black ones cost two ducats each, the colour six. Collectors should address stamped orders to Herr Ignatz Unterberger himself on the second floor of no.463 im Weissen Sterne in Vienna."
Unterberger's love for the paintings of Correggio, which is very clear in this print, gave rise to a celebrated scandal in the 1790s, of which a full and very amusing account was given by Hirt in four successive issues (nos.143- 6) of the 'Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände' from 15 to 18 June 1808. On his departure from Rome, Unterberger had left behind with his brother Christoph a painting of a mother and three children, which was a student exercise in the manner of Correggio. In 1786 Christoph had sold it with a pile of canvases to the dealer Joseph Lovera, who had it cleaned and proclaimed the discovery of a new Correggio. When Christoph then declared it was the work of his brother, no-one believed him. Many tried to buy the work, but Lovera kept raising the price. In 1792 he allowed the English dealer Alexander Day to make a drawing from it, which was engraved by Raphael Morghen, the most famous Italian engraver of the time (the print is no. 166 in Palmerini's catalogue). Eventually Lovera sold it in 1795 for 1200 ducats to Prince Esterhazy, who took it off to Vienna. Unterberger then in person declared his authorship, the deal was annulled and the painting returned to Rome, where connoisseurs refused to credit that a German artist could paint such a work and continued to believe that it was by Correggio.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1994/5 Sep-Jan, BM, German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe, no. 46
1995 Jan-Mar, Lancaster, Peter Scott Gall, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
1995 Mar-May, Edinburgh, NG Scotland, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
1995 May-Jun, Newcastle, Northumbria Univ, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
1995 Jul-Aug, Plymouth City Mus & AG, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
1995 Sep-Oct, York City AG, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
1995 Nov-Dec, Nottingham, Djanogly AG, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number