The dragon devouring the companions of Cadmus
1558 - 1617
after Cornelis van Haarlem
1562 - 1638
Goltzius was the greatest exponent of Dutch Mannerism, renowned in the Netherlands and elsewhere for his technical skill and virtuosity. This gruesome scene was inspired by the story of Cadmus in Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’. Cadmus was sent by the Delphic Oracle to follow a cow and build a city at the first place it decided to lie down. The cow eventually collapsed at the future site of Thebes. When Cadmus sent his men to fetch water, they were killed by a dragon guarding the spring. Cadmus then slew the dragon, as seen in the background. On the advice of the goddess Athena he sowed the dragon’s teeth in the soil, from which armed men sprung up. Five of them became the ancestors of the Thebans.
i of 4 states
26.0 x 30.7 cm sheet
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
European Art Collection Benefactors' Fund 2010
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
European prints and drawings 1500-1900, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Aug 2014–02 Nov 2014
R.E. Lewis & Daughter, Original Prints, San Rafael/California/United States of America, Purchased by the AGNSW from R.E. Lewis & Daughter, Original Prints 2010
Referenced in 1 publication
Walter L Strauss, Hendrik Goltzius, 1558-1617: the complete engravings and woodcuts, New York, 1977. no.261