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Willem van Mieris (Dutch, 1662–1747),
Ulysses Threatening Circe , 1690
oil on panel, 13 ¼ x 17 ¼ in.; 33.66 x 43.82 cm
Gift, through purchase, of Helen and Ted Kolderie, 1995.20

Based on Homer’s Odyssey, this panel depicts Ulysses forcing the sorceress Circe to release his companions, whom she had turned into swine, visible in the background. Antiquity is evoked by the columned architecture glimpsed through the doorway, the warrior’s armor, and the women’s loose garments. Other objects are clearly modern, included solely for their beauty: the monumental sculpted vase (an example of Baroque ornateness), a precious Oriental rug, and shimmering satin fabrics. All are microscopically rendered, their various textures sensuously described. This masterpiece of illusionism, painstakingly executed with fine brushes, exemplifies the highly detailed, precise style of the Leiden school of painting.

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