‘The Sacrifice of Iphigeneia’ is one of the eighteen known drawings by 16th-century artist Pieter Aertsen. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has added this unique work to its collection.
The Amsterdam-based artist Pieter Aertsen (1507/8-1575) is renowned for his combination of religious images and kitchen interiors, market scenes or lavish still lifes depicting fruit and vegetables. These works gained great popularity and made him one of the most famous painters of his era.
While the museum possesses four paintings by Aertsen, until now it did not have one of his drawings. The acquisition of ‘The Sacrifice of Iphigeneia’ fulfils a long-harboured desire. Stylistically, the pen and ink drawing is in keeping with Aertsen’s other drawings, which are characterised by their smooth, elegant style. His elongated, mannerist figures earned Aertsen his nickname, ‘Lange Pier’.
The drawing depicts a scene from the tragedy ‘Iphigeneia in Aulis’, written in 406 BC by Euripides. Iphigeneia was to be sacrificed by her father Agamemnon, leader of the Greek armies, to placate Artemis, the Goddess of the Hunt. At the last moment however, Iphigeneia’s terrible fate was averted by Artemis herself, who made her invisible and carried her off unseen. The drawing depicts the moment when Agamemnon raises his sword to run his daughter through.
The drawing was acquired from a Berlin-based art dealership during the annual Salon du Dessin art fair in Paris. The acquisition was financed with funds from a bequest by
Mrs N.C. van Riemsdijk-Borsje (2006).