Painted around 1530 by Italian artist Correggio, Jupiter and Io depicts the god’s seduction (in the guise of a cloud) of the river nymph.
The oil on canvas plays out like an erotic dream, a mixture of solid and transient imagery, the amorphous mass juxtaposing the distinct lines of the exposed human flesh. It feels like, at any moment, Jupiter’s gaseous form could completely consume her. And yet he touches her in a way that is determined but gentle, tenderly kissing her cheek and wrapping himself around her waist to support her. This tenderness is one of the features that I find so beautiful in this work – perhaps a lesson that all men should learn.
Io shows no sign of fear, but instead opens herself willingly to his embrace. Her head is tilted back, eyes half closed, mouth open as though gasping in ecstasy. Her left arm reaches round, the muscles tense as she pulls her lover closer to her body.
Today the pair’s names are immortalised in the heavens; Io is the name given to one of the moons of the planet Jupiter, forever circling it in an unending lovers’ dance.
My own ‘Jupiter and Io’ (original oil on canvas), inspired by the myth…