JOHAN ZOFFANY, R.A.
Neptune and Amphitrite
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
Zoffany portrays Neptune, ruler of the sea, enthroned and embracing Amphitrite his Nereid wife. Below Cupid, with his bow in hand, looks up at them.
According to De Astronomica, a book that compiled the myths associated with the constellations and supposedly written by Gaius Julius Hyginus in the 1st century BC, Neptune had fallen in love with Amphitrite, but she fled from him and sought refuge with Atlas. Among those Neptune sent out to look for her was Delphinus, who managed to find her. Amphitrite agreed to marry Neptune and in gratitude he turned Delphinus into the constellation Dolphin.
Earlier in his career c.1755, Zoffany produced a complex pastel drawing of the same subject, illustrated above. It is now housed in the Maximilian Speck von Sternburg Stiftung, in Leipzig.