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Jupiter and Juno

Attributed to Carracci Antonio

(Venice 1589 - Rome 1618)

Depicting an episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, this panel was first mentioned in connection with the Borghese Collection in an inventory from 1762. It shows Juno, wife of Jupiter, portrayed in a moment of intimacy in her bedroom. A beautiful marine landscape with rugged mountains is visible through the window. The scene is embellished by a peacock and an eagle, the respective iconographic attributes of Juno and Jupiter, and by two small cherubs which probably represent Eros – appearing here as a celestial deity above several clouds – and his brother Anteros – shown as he destroys a bow.

The work was traditionally ascribed to the Bolognese painter Annibale Carracci. However, later critics proposed the name of Antonio, Annibale’s nephew and Agostino’s illegitimate son, while more recently others have suggested Giovanni Antonio Solari, a follower of the Carracci.


Object details

1612 ca.
oil on panel
cm 34 x 38

Salvator Rosa, 45 x 49 x 4.5 cm


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1762 (Inv. 1762, p. 102); Inv. 1765, p. 168; Inventario Fidecommissario, 1833, p. 24; purchased by Italian state, 1902.

  • 1996-1997 Lecce, Fondazione Memmo.
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1903 and/or 1906 Luigi Bartolucci;
  • 1950 Augusto Cecconi Principi;
  • 1996-1997 ICR.


This painting is first mentioned as forming part of the Borghese Collection in 1762, when it was described in the inventory of that year as ‘a work representing Jupiter seated on a bed with a woman. Cupid and a peacock, 1⅓ spans on each side, painted on panel, with a gilded frame, no. 207’ (Della Pergola 1955). While the inventory of 1765 mistakenly described it as a work on slate, the 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario ascribed the work to the Carracci school. This attribution was accepted by Giovanni Piancastelli (1891) but rejected by Adolfo Venturi (1893), who deemed the painting an imitation of a work by Raphael and proposed Giuseppe Cesari, called Cavalier d'Arpino, as the artist.

In 1928 Roberto Longhi described the panel as a replica ‘with intelligent variations’ of a fresco with a similar subject in Palazzo Farnese, executed by Annibale. His opinion was accepted by Paola della Pergola, who in 1955 published this Jupiter and Juno as a work by Carracci, dating it to 1602. For her part, Maria Celeste Cola (1997) expressed agreement with the attribution to Annibale.

Luigi Salerno (1956) was the first critic to ascribe the work to Antonio Carracci, Annibale’s nephew and Agostino’s son. His view was accepted by Sir Denis Mahon (1957), Maurizio Calvesi (1958) and more recently by Kristina Herrmann Fiore (2006) but rejected by Donald Posner (1971), who considered the work in question a copy of the Jupiter and Juno in the Farnese collection; Gianfranco Malafarina (1976) likewise disagreed with the attribution to Antonio.

Beginning from an inventory entry, Carel van Tuyll (1981) identified the Borghese panel with the one listed in the 1609 document of the artworks left by Annibale Carracci upon his death, whose description read ‘a painting of Jupiter with Juno and a cherub, by Giovanni Antonio’. This scholar specified that the artist in question was Giovanni Antonio Solari, a faithful student of Annibale who remained with his master to the end of his life, together with Antonio and Sisto Badalocchio. According to van Tuyll, the panel was indeed by Solari, a painter about whom little is still known. In addition to ascribing the work in question to him, this scholar dubiously maintained that a series of other paintings should be attributed to Solari, works that were more recently discussed by Nicosetta Roio (2007) in her monograph on Antonio Carracci.

As critics have stated, the panel reproduces the fresco by Annibale Carracci in Palazzo Farnese with several variations: both works portray Jupiter and Juno at the foot of the bed in a moment of great intimacy. Yet unlike the Farnese scene, here the landscape was added behind the two protagonists. In addition, Solari included the two cherubs, probably Cupid and Anteros, who represent the two sides of love – passion and ruthlessness – a likely allusion to Juno’s faithfulness and devotion to Jupiter, which contrasts with her husband’s infidelity.

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 189; 
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 221; 
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, pp. 137, 160, 224; 
  • P. della Pergola, Itinerario della Galleria Borghese, Roma 1951, p.36; 
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 21, n. 17; 
  • L. Salerno, L’opera di Antonio Carracci, in “Bollettino d’arte”, XLI, 1956, pp. 35-36; 
  • D. Mahon, Afterthought on the Carracci Exhibition, in “Gazette des Beaux Arts”, VI, 1957, p. 296; 
  • M. Calvesi, Annibale Carracci, in Enciclopedia universale dell’arte, III, 1958, p. 205; 
  • J.R. Martin, The Farnese Gallery, London-Cambridge 1965, p. 90
  • R. Longhi, Saggi e ricerche 1925-28. Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane. La Galleria Borghese, Firenze 1967, pp. 318-328; 
  • D. Posner, Annibale Carracci. A Study in the Reform of italian Painting around 1590, II, New York 1971, p. 49; 
  • G. Malafarina, L’opera completa di Annibale Carracci, Milano 1976, p. 113;
  • C. Van Tuyll, Giovanni Antonio Solari, un nuovo carraccesco, in "Paragone", I, 1981, pp. 25-31;
  • M.C. Cola, in Immagini degli Dei. Mitologia e collezionismo tra Cinquecento e Seicento, catalogo della mostra, (Lecce, Fondazione Memmo, 1996-1997), a cura di C. Cieri Via, Milano 1996, pp. 210-211; 
  • C. Stefani, in P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 378; 
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 165;
  • N. Roio, in Antonio Carracci (1592-1618), a cura di E. Negro, M. Pirondini, N. Roio, Brescia 2007, pp. 25-26, 30, 61 n. 154.