Paris 1763 – Paris 1832
Milo of Croton, Attempting to Test His Strength, Is Caught and Devoured by a Lion
Oil on canvas
61 x 50 cm
Purchase, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' Volunteer Association Fund, inv. 2002.38
The story of the ancient Greek athlete Milo of Croton is an allegory of pride and vanity. The aging Milo wants to show his strength by pulling a split tree trunk apart. His hand gets caught and, unable to escape, he is devoured by wild beasts. Following the celebrated Milo of Croton by the sculptor Puget (Musée du Louvre, Paris), Meynier decided to replace the wolves described in literary sources with a lion, thus creating a pendant to his Androcles, who was spared by a lion he had cared for. The final pair of large paintings no longer survive: only this very polished preliminary canvas remains. Although a model of Neoclassicism, this painting also leans towards a new sense of the picturesque and pre-Romantic. Milo’s white hair stands out starkly against the turbulent skies; his expression’s terribilità, screaming mouth, tensed muscles and spread-eagled body recall other mythological figures, like the Laocoon.