➽ Old Masters Day Sale | Christie's | London | 7 December 2018 | LOT 118
✢ Jacob de Backer (Antwerp c. 1555-c. 1585) and Studio
✓ The Contest of Apollo and Pan
× oil on canvas 42 x 58 ¾ in. (106.6 x 149.3 cm)
Jacob de Backer was amongst the foremost history painters working in Antwerp at the end of the sixteenth century. Though details of his life are scarce and records suggest that the artist died at an early age, he appears to have maintained an industrious and prolific career. As is often the case with de Backer’s work, this composition exists in other variants, with a similar picture, painted on panel, now in a private collection, perhaps representing the closest known version. Taken from Book XI of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the picture depicts the musical contest between Pan and Apollo, witnessed by the mountain god Tmolus and King Midas. The narrative is here conflated to show Apollo playing his lyre, while Midas can be seen gesturing toward Pan as his ears transform.
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