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Federico Zuccaro (c. 1542-1609)

Calumny c. 1569-72

RCIN 405695

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In 1569 Federico Zuccaro was removed from a prestigious commission to decorate the Villa Farnese. He produced this painting in response, which is itself inspired by descriptions of a legendary lost painting by Apelles, the most famous artist of Greek Antiquity. On the left, the foolish King Midas, with ass's ears, listens to the lies of Slander (wearing red) but is restrained by Minerva, protector of virtue and patron of the arts. The mistreated hero, who wears an ivy wreath and may be a self-portrait of Zuccaro, is shown being led away on the right, his head held high, under the protection of Mercury and Truth. The figure in the centre is Fraud, half man, half reptile, and may be intended as a portrait of Zuccaro's rival Jacopo Bertoia, who replaced him on the Farnese commission.

Cat. 124