Jupiter and Semele
(Giovanni Luteri, called Dosso Dossi)


This recently re-discovered and hitherto unknown Jupiter and Semele is a characteristic example of Dosso Dossi’’s work at the height of his career in the 1520’s, arguably his most fruitful decade. It is an important and rare addition to the full-scale figure paintings of the protagonist of the High Renaissance at the cosmopolitan court of Ferrara during the reign of Alfonso d’Este (1476-1534). The Jupiter and Semele displays all of Dosso’ Dossi’s charming eccentricities, from his interest in sculptural figures, to the undulation of colourful drapery and his unusual interpretation of iconography.

The musculature and turned pose of Jupiter illustrate Dosso Dossi’s mastery of and fascination for the human form and can be compared to the Apollo in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, in which the same plasticity of the figure and a similar approach to foreshortening can be appreciated. Dosso Dossi’s interest in the nude had become manifest earlier in his career, for example in his Madonna and Child in Glory with Saints John the Baptist, Sebastian and Jerome in the Duomo in Modena. The saints almost act as bust models in the three different poses, as do the male figures in his series of the Learned Men of Antiquity, today scattered in different collections. However, the previously stout and thick-set figures of these pictures are treated in a more refined and painterly way in the Apollo and in the present work, with more attention paid to the contours of the sculpted form and the highlights of the hair rather than on mere musculature and shape.


180 x 130.5 cm
Oil on canvas

Duke Alfonso I d’Este, Castello di San Michele, Ferrara circa 1524 – 1527?
Thence by decent to his son, Ercole II d’Este (158 – 1559)?
By descent to his son, Alfonso II d’Este (1533-1597)?
The dukes of Osuna, and then by descent?
Jose Maria Martorell Tellez-Giron. Noveno Duque de Plasencia descendant of the Duque de Osuna. (As attested by a label dating from 1936, dating from the ‘registrations’ during the Spanish Civil War 1936-39)


Beverly Brown, Fatal Attraction, Matthiesen Ltd., 214.

Dosso Dossi – Rinascimenti eccentici al castello del buonconciglio, Trento 2014, Castello del Buonconciglio, fig. 4, p. 159.

Historical Period
High Renaissance to Mannerism - 1450-1530
Italian - Other Regions
2014-Fatal Attraction: Sex and Avarice in Dosso Dossi's Jupiter and Semele.
An in-depth analysis of the mythological and erotic story of Semele. Dosso Dossi was the court artist to the Court of Alfonso the First in Ferrara.

(Click on image above)
Price band
Price on application