JOHAN ZOFFANY, R.A.
Diana and Actaeon
The artist by whom given to Major General Claude Martin (1735-1800), Lucknow, India, circa 1799
His sale, Tulloh & Co, Calcutta, 18 December, 1800
Purchased by Benjamin Wolff (1760 - 1866) presumably whilst in Calcutta,1817-1829,
Engelholm Manor, Copenhagen and by descent
From Ovid's Metamorphoses, Zoffany portrays the moment when the young prince Actaeon, whilst out hunting in the forest, accidentally stumbles upon the grotto where Diana and her companions are bathing. To punish him for his glimpse of divine nudity, the goddess turns him into a stag and his own hounds devour him.
The 17th century Bolognese artist Francesco Albani made several paintings on the subject of Diana and Actaeon. The Dresden version, illustrated above, relates closely to parts of the present drawing. Zoffany was not, as the pages in this group demonstrate, an artist who laboriously reworked earlier precedents without considered innovation or alteration.