October 4, 2023


Make Some Fun

109/ A voyage to Cythera (1): amongst poets, painters and musicians

7 min read

“And so we sailed on joyously, completely plunged and sunk on this unbridled need, till our affluent voyage introduced us to the scrumptious Cytherean Isle.” Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (3, p.289)

This submit explores the variety of recognized artists impressed by the legendary island of Cythera, the place lovers went to worship the Goddess of Love Aphrodite/Venusat her temple. The theme has been fashionable in pictorial arts, the place the work of Antoine WATTEAU (1684-1721) – ‘L’Embarquement pour Cythère’, 1717, Paris and its duplicate ca. 1718-19 in Berlin – are actually confirmed masterpieces.The narrative was already well-known within the sister-arts (novel, poem, theatre, music, ballet). Fig.1 reveals a quantitative strategy: the information visualization of the cumulative variety of each sort of artists from 1500 to the current (1.a b c).

Determine 1Knowledge visualization of the cumulative variety of artists from 1500 to the current
UPDATED with label ‘1636 LE SUEUR’ see COMMENT nr2
See footage and YouTubes on webpage Watteau’s Embarquement pour Cythère

Details and desires


                Determine 2

Kythira (Greek: Κύθηρα), Cythera (English), Kythera (German), Cerigo (Italian), Cythère (French) is an island reverse the jap tip of the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece. The very outdated worship with a temple of Aphrodite on the island is a confirmed historic reality, although it was by no means an necessary sanctuary (2). However how did Cythera elevate right into a legend in early fashionable occasions ?



The Venetian Francesco Colonna (ca. 1453–1517) printed in 1499 a most outstanding guide entitled “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili” (in English “Poliphilo’s Strife of Love in a Dream”). It’s a very advanced and lengthy story of a dream in a dream, the place Poliphilo is trying to find his love Polia who abandoned him. He desires they’re taken by Cupid to the island of Cythera by boat. After additional bother amongst them, Cupidbrings the lovers collectively and eventually Venusblesses their love (3).

Determine 3 (3)

 Artwork historians have argued that many artists had been impressed by Colonna’s guide. Thus additionally Claudia Denk in ‘Der gebandigte Amor: Antoine Watteaus Einschiffung nach Kythera und die Hypnerotomachia Poliphili des Francesco Colonna’, discussing a number of extra inspiring sources of sister arts, and numerous allegories and totally different interpretations of each work of WATTEAU in Paris and Berlin (4). 

The latter was engraved in 1733 by Nicolas Henri TARDIEU (1674-1749). Therefore, the portray was identified all through Europe.  Nonetheless, Fig. 1 reveals that the variety of ‘pictorial’ artists impressed by the portray is surprisingly low within the interval 1750-1850. The reason being that WATTEAU’s type grew to become old school and was fully rejected as ‘ancien regime’ following the French revolution. Merely 150 years later, it was lastly recognised as a masterpiece, asserting the impressionist type of the second half of the 19thcentury. It’s placing that the Louvre commissioned Charles CHAPLIN (1825-1891) to engrave its Paris portray solely in 1865.


Music and poems

Nonetheless, many musicians continued to be impressed after WATTEAU: The Oxford Information (1.c) refers to 15 music/opera/ballet composers from 1740 to 1827, and the theme was once more chosen within the 20th century by well-known musicians like Claude Debussy in 1904, Francis Poulenc in 1951 and Eleni Karaindrou, who composed the soundtrack of the heart-breaking movie “Voyage to Cythera” directed by Theo Angelopoulos in 1984.  It ought to be acknowledged {that a} musical work has a one other quantitative significance than a portray because the variety of ‘performances’ might be understood as a measure of success.

The Oxford Information (1.c) lists additionally 14 poets from 1857 to 1976. Amongst these poets, essentially the most well-known one is Charles Baudelaire. In ‘Un voyage à Cythère’, poem in his infamous assortment ‘Les Fleurs du mal’ of 1857, Baudelaire described the ‘actual’ and the ‘dream’ island (5):  

2nd quatrain :  Quelle est cette île triste et noire ? — C’est Cythère, Nous dit-on, un pays fameux dans les chansons, Eldorado banal de tous les vieux garçons. Regardez, après tout, c’est une pauvre terre. 3th quatrain : — Île des doux secrets and techniques et des fêtes du cœur ! De l’vintage Vénus le superbe fantôme Au-dessus de tes mers airplane comme un arôme, Et cost les esprits d’amour et de langueur.  

The 14th quatrain: Le ciel était charmant, la mer était unie ; pour moi tout était noir et sanglant désormais, hélas ! et j’avais, comme en un suaire épais, le cœur enseveli dans cette allégorie.- was inspiration for the portray ‘Cythère’ by Henri VOLLET (1861-1945), exhibited on the Paris Salon in 1892, n°1670 (6 p.127).

Baudelaire didn’t go to Cythera however was impressed by the articles of 1844-45 about Cythera in ‘Voyage en Orient’ by Gérard de Nerval, and he devoted his poem to Nerval (7).

Victor Hugo, one other famend French writer, didn’t journey to Cythera both, however little doubt learn additionally Gérard de Nerval and wrote in 1855 an extended poem of 75 verses entitled ‘Cérigo’  (8) :

I. Tout homme qui vieillit est ce roc solitaire Et triste, Cérigo, qui fut jadis Cythère, Cythère aux nids charmants, Cythère aux myrtes verts, La conque de Cypris sacrée au sein des mers.

II. Vénus! que parles-tu de Vénus? elle est là. Lève les yeux. Le jour où Dieu la dévoila Pour la première fois dans l’aube universelle, Elle ne brillait pas plus qu’elle n’étincelle.

Sequels:  August 30, 2022 

110/ A voyage to Cythera (2) amid 30 French comedies of the 18th century

October 23,2022 

111/ A voyage to Cythera (3): amongst publishers and their pretend imprints


 1.a This visualization is especially based mostly on the compilation of artists and their ‘pictorial’ artworks in ‘MyProject’ the place the theme ‘Cythera’ is categorized beneath Subject 1 ‘Allegory’ or Subject 2 ‘Apotheosis’ with key phrases temple or worship.
1.b See additional particulars and plenty of footage and movies on web-page Connectivity maps: Watteau’s Embarquement pour Cythère  See additionally Weblog-post of January 3, 2021 96/Antoine WATTEAU (1684-1721), the pacifist painter: a quantitative strategy

1.c For the compilation of artists of ‘sister arts’, the preliminary supply wasThe Oxford Information to Classical Mythology within the Arts 1300-Nineteen Nineties’ byJane Davidson Reid (editor), Oxford College Press, New York Oxford, 1993 (two volumes, 1310 pp.) the place the doorway on pp.152-153 APHRODITE ‘Cythera, Isle of Aphrodite’ refers to 39 works of sister-artsout of a complete of solely 54 works by 47 recognized artists. 

See about The Oxford Information the primary submit of this weblog: twelfth June 2011 1/ What are Topical Catalogues ? and its 8 Feedback 


Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge: “L’Aphrodite grecque” Centre Worldwide d’Etude de la Faith Grecque Vintage, Athènes-Liège, 1994.
527 pp. See Chapter VIII Cythère (p.217-226).  




3.  “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili- The Strife of Love in a Dream” Translated by Joscelyn Godwin, Thames & Hudson, London, 1999, 475 pp. with the unique 168 woodcut illustrations. The web site of  New York Metropolitan Museum reveals a big number of these woodcuts.

WIKIWAND refers additionally to laptop graphics of some monuments illustrated and to an ongoing analysis challenge with the target of reconstructing the content material of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, by a multi-disciplinary strategy, and with assistance from digital and conventional reconstruction know-how and strategies.

  4. Claudia Denk, in Ekkehard Mai / Ursula Weber-Woelk (eds.): Faszination Venus. Bilder einer Göttin von Cranach bis Cabanel. Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, München 2001, pp.90-103.

5. The poem of Baudelaire counts 15 quatrains of 4 verses. From the version Les Fleurs du mal (1857), Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857 (p. 208-211). Wikisource

6. Catalogue illustré du Salon… / publié sous la course de F.-G. Dumas Éditeur :      L. Baschet (Paris) p.127

7. Sylvie Lécuyer (2021) ‘Gérard de Nerval’ Nerval.web  1843, LE VOYAGE EN ORIENT – CYTHÈRE, LE VOYAGE ARCHÉOLOGIQUE

Nerval refers in his articles additionally to Colonna’s “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili” and toa doc of Antoine Sérieys, the place a marble frieze is described with inscription «Nasz Ajrodithz qeaz kuriaz Kuqhriwu kai pantoz kosmon, (Temple de Vénus, déesse maîtresse des Cythériens et du monde entier) » and a bas-relief depicting « …. deux amants venant offrir des colombes à la déesse (Vénus)», the latter illustrated on p.139 with an engraving by Laurent GUYOT (1756-1808). The island was beneath authority of England because the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and Nerval observes « […] il est une sorte de richesse dont nos voisins ont encore pu dépouiller l’vintage Cythère,…». 

See the unique story in Voyage de Dimo et Nicolo Stephanopoli en Grèce : pendant les années V et VI (1797 et 1798)… d’après deux missions, dont l’une du Gouvernement français et l’autre du général en chef Buonaparte. [Volume 1] / rédigé par un des professeurs du Prytanée… Sérieys, Antoine (1755-1819). Éditeur scientifique. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Littérature et art, J-21613-21614

8. First verses of fifty partially I and first verses of 25 partially II of poem XX Cérigo in Livre Cinquième ‘Les Contemplations’ de Victor Hugo. Copyright (C) 1999 Affiliation de Bibliophiles Universels

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