the triumph of galatea
The water nymph, whose affair with a peasant shepherd inspired numerous works of art.
Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, tells the story of the mortal peasant shepherd, Acis, who falls in love with Galatea, a Nereid or water nymph, whose Greek name translates as ‘she who is milk white’. The jealous Cyclops, Polyphemus, bludgeoned Acis with a boulder and, in response, a distraught Galatea transformed him into the Sicilian river that bears his name. Their tale has inspired numerous works of art, including Handel’s pastoral opera of 1718, Acis and Galatea, with a libretto by John Gay, and paintings by Lorrain and Poussin.
Raphael did not paint any of the main events of the story. He chose the scene of the nymph’s apotheosis (Stanze, I, 118–119). Galatea appears surrounded by other sea creatures whose forms are somewhat inspired by Michelangelo, [ citation needed ] whereas the bright colors and decoration are supposed to be inspired by ancient Roman painting. At the left, a Triton (partly man, partly fish) abducts a sea nymph; behind them, another Triton uses a shell as a trumpet. Galatea rides a shell-chariot drawn by two dolphins.
The Triumph of Galatea is a fresco completed about 1514 by the Italian painter Raphael for the Villa Farnesina in Rome. 
Attendant sea spirits play classic and symbolic instruments to announce Galatea’s change. They use their seashell horns, which are still used to make announcements in traditional ceremonies in many parts of the world.
Galatea has a robust icthyocentaur to her left. Perhaps this creature, which has the middle of a man, body of a steed and tail of a fish, is meant to emphasise the mythological quality of the story or make it more interesting visually. Perhaps Raphael regarded it as a challenge to paint such a form. A centaur in the painting seems to have been overwhelmed by an affectionate, enthusiastic and obviously naked sprite.
The Triumph of Galatea is a fresco by renaissance artist Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, also known as Raphael. It depicts the character of Galatea, who appears in Greek mythology as a sea-nymph in love with a mortal. Raphael has immortalized the moment of GalateaвЂ™s apotheosis, when she becomes a being of the most divine level. The fresco is a testament to the humanization Raphael was able to bring to his work, and is the only work of RaphaelвЂ™s based on a Greek myth. Singulart explains the myth behind the artwork and explores the composition of the fresco.
The story of Galatea and Acis proved inspirational for other mediums of art, particularly opera. Jean-Baptiste Lully based his 1686 opera Acis et GalatГ©e a on the love triangle between Galatea, Acis and Polyphemus . This was followed by Giovanni BononciniвЂ™s one-act opera Polifemo in 1703. However, the most well-known opera depicting the tale is undoubtedly the version by George Frideric Handel, Acis and Galatea. Although earlier versions of the pastoral opera focused on Polyphemus as an equally important character, in the final version, the story is more solely focused on the two lovers. Critics argue that HandelвЂ™s version is the greatest pastoral opera ever composed.
This fine and elegant oval relief in walnut wood depicts a mythological theme well-known through an iconographic subject beloved by the Renaissance artists: the Triumph of Galatea. The most famous work depicting the Triumph of Galatea is the fresco painted by Raphael around 1511, for Agostino Chigi at Villa Farnesina in Rome.
The high quality of the wood and the choice of the oval shape, together with the sculptural skill displayed in some details like the elegant dolphin heads, allow us to attribute this work to a Franco-Flemish artist, so skilled and sophisticated as to be able to express dynamism and energy – as suggested by the figures cut off at the oval margins – as if the scene might extend beyond the limits of the relief.