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Jean-Victor Bertin

Forest Interior


Jean-Victor Bertin
Paris 1767 – Paris 1842


Forest Interior




Oil on canvas


82.2 x 114.5 cm


Purchase, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' Volunteer Association Fund, the Marcel Elefant Fund and the Museum Campaign 1988-1993 Fund, inv. 2006.50


Western Art

Handed down from Poussin, the historical landscape, the end result of academic theories, was a combination of an ideal landscape and a subject from mythology or ancient history. During the early nineteenth century, Bertin became one of the leading practitioners of historical landscape and a militant proponent of the genre, with the result that the slow but inexorable rise of Realism gradually diminished his reputation. The subject here was taken from the Roman author Ovid. Returning from the hunt, the goddess Diana is preparing to bathe in the spring beside which the nymph Callisto, with child by Jupiter, sits weeping. The sad end to the story is that Callisto, turned into a bear by Juno, Jupiter’s jealous wife, is shot dead by Diana’s arrows. Jupiter changes Callisto into a constellation, the Great Bear. In this lush, ideal landscape, the artist uses a variety of elements — a stream, a leaning tree and jagged rocks — to create a harmonious composition.

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