Hebe After The Fall
Hebe After The Fall c~1880 by French Painter Hugues Merle (1822 – 1881); who specialized in paintings that depicted sentimental heart warming scenes and moral subject matter; and who’s work is often compared to that of French Painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau.
This is artwork is based on Ancient Greek mythology, which shows the Hebe, the Goddess of youth and also the daughter of Zeus and Hera; as the cup-bearer to the Gods, serving them nectar and ambrosia.
This scene though, shows her in a sadden state, disrobed with just her rose colored hanging from her armed while she holds a gold wine jug in her right hand by her side; and has her left hand on top of her forehead with her head bowed down.
She is standing on a cliff with dark clouds behind her with a small gap to reveal the gods that are looking at her departure and on the lower right, an eagle carrying a man in distress aloft.
This depiction is derived from a moralizing tale of the 1500s as put down by the Church of England, in which Hebe fell from grace while in attendance to the gods, her dress became undone, revealing her naked body publicly; thus being cast out of Olympus.
The tale was fashioned so as to remind women of the time, to remain modestly covered at all times; as nude women in particular were seen to the Church to be shameful and immoral.
Hugues Merle was born in 1822 in La Sône, France and around the age of 21 arrived in Paris, France where he studied painting under the French Historical and Portrait Painter Léon Cogniet (1794 – 1880).
Though little is known of Hugues early life it is assumed that he received some degree of art education before he arrived in Paris in 1843; because he began exhibiting at the Paris Salon in 1847 with his piece Portrait de L’auteur and in 1848 he exhibited the piece Légende des Willis.
As time went on Hugues reputation as a portraitist grew substantially during the 1850s; and as a successful and prominent painter he was able to attract serious art lovers that were looking to build their art collections.
One of these early collectors of art was th 4th Marquess of Hertford, Richard Seymour-Conway (1800-1870); who purchased his salon submission Reading the Bible in 1859.
During the 1860s, Hugues client list of collectors included not only individuals from the European continent, but also American collectors, such as William Walters of Baltimore who commissioned The Scarlet Letter.