E.13 Contest of Athena and Poseidon

E.13 Boyvin?, Contest of Athena and Posiedon

Engraving by René Boyvin?, 12.2 x 24.4 L (Paris, Ba 12).

Fig.E.13 (Paris, Ba 12)

Robert-Dumesnil, VIII, 1850, 45, no. 67, as Boyvin attempting the manner of Étienne Delaune, after Rosso.  Le Blanc, 1854-1890, I, 506, 17, as Boyvin after Rosso.  Herbet, III, 1899, 36 (1969, 124).  Levron, 1941, 75, no. 182, as shop of Boyvin.

COLLECTIONS: London, 1982 U 293.  Lyons, exhibited (private collection, Dunand, 1973, no. 31, Fig. 18).  New York, 32.92.27(14). Paris, Ba 12; Ed3; SNR (2 impressions).  Vienna, F.I.3, p.24, no. 60.


Kusenberg, 1931, 161.

Linzeler, 1932, 177.

Zerner, in EdF, 1972, 265, under no. 312, as attributed probably wrongly to Boyvin.

Zerner in Fontainebleau, 1972, II, 83, under no. 312.

Carroll, 1987, 302, 303-304, n. 1, under no. 96.

The active figures in this scene and its planar but also energetic composition recall such paintings by Rosso as the Twins of Catania (Fig.P.22, V N a) and the Cleobis and Biton (Fig.P.22, V S a) in the Gallery of Francis I.  It resembles Rosso’s Pandora and Her Box drawing (Fig.D.67a) as well.  The scene is certainly Rosso’s invention, as has always been recognized, and would seem to have been made around 1536.  It is possible that it was designed to have a place in the decoration of the East Wall of the gallery (see D.66).  The engraving is most probably based on a lost drawing by Rosso where, as is characteristic of some of his drawings, the wreath of victory was described as a simple band without leaves and the moldings of the architecture at the right were left undescribed.  Given the gestures of the figures, with Victory, Athena, and Poseidon all holding their “gifts” with their left hands, it is likely that the engraving reverses Rosso’s drawing, as also shown by the partial copy of a lost drawing by him (Fig.D.66).

The attribution of this engraving to Boyvin has been questioned by Zerner.  Its technique does not show his regular and smoothly consistent manner.

Fantuzzi also reproduced this scene in an etching probably made from another drawing by Rosso, possibly the drawing known from a partial copy in Paris.  Boyvin’s scene is longer at the left where somewhat more architecture is seen, as well as the almost full figure of Victory.  The upper limit of Boyvin’s scene is lower.  At the far right the sea monster is somewhat differently described and there is a statue in the niche in the background.  Water is also seen at the lower right.

On the relation of this engraving to a drawing in the Louvre (Fig.Paris, 8738), see under D.66.

COPY, PAINTING: Boyvin’s print was used as the model for the nineteenth century painting over the central door of the West Wall of the Gallery of Francis I (see P.22, West Wall).