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This is one of three mythological scenes to decorate a cassone, or chest, illustrating the story of Callisto as told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Jupiter seducing Callisto, also in the National Gallery, decorated the other end.
The front of the cassone showed Callisto’s fellow nymphs revealing her pregnancy by Jupiter to the goddess Diana (Musée Picardie, Amiens). Furious, Diana turned Callisto into a bear. Here, Arcas goes out hunting and, not realising that the bear is his mother, he shoots her dead.
The National Gallery, London
Oil on canvas
H 18.8 x W 18.4 cm