Giovanni BILIVERTI- 1585 - 1644
Landscape with Latona Turning the Lycian Peasants into Frogs
Florentine School

Red Chalk, red wash
Red chalk framing line

22.1 x 29.4 cm

Watermark :

Provenance :

Euro :

Circle with Lamb

Wolfhart Bürgi (L.3400) (1901-1989)



Giovanni Biliverti, born in Florence in 1585, was the son of the Flemish painter Jacques Biliverti with whom he began his studies. He then apprenticed with Alessandro Casolani in Siena, and after the death of his father in 1603, Giovanni Biliverti worked in the studio of Ludovico Cigoli. Together with Cigoli he went to Rome in 1604 where he remained until 1607, working on projects approved by Pope Clement VIII. In 1609, Giovanni Biliverti joined the Medici sponsored guild of artist, the "Academia del Disegno" in Florence. He was then employed by Cosimo II de Medici from 1611 until 1621, as a designer for works in pietra dura. He most famous works are to be found in the Galleria Palatina of Palazzo Pitti in Florence, in the Heritage and in the Belvedere in Vienna. Among his pupils were Cecco Bravo, Agostino Melessi, Baccio del Bianco and Orazio Fidani. Later in his life he became blind, dying in his native city in 1644.

Comparative drawings are "Pope Leo X encountering Francois I, King of France" kept in the Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe in Rome ( , "Echo and Narcissus" and the "Decapitation of saint John the Baptist" both kept in the Musée du Louvre in Paris (inv.nos.579, 583) and a "Scene from Orlando Furioso" kept in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Dijon ( As all these drawings are dated to the later part of the activity of Giovanni Biliverti a similar dating can be assigned to the present drawing, to the 1630's.

The present composition shows the Titaness Latona with her two children Apollo and Diana, turning the Lycian peasants into frogs when they refused her water. Latona was Jupiter's lover, but was banished by the jealous Juno to flee to distant Lycia, an island that is not attached to the ocean floor and therefore not considered land, where she can finally give birth to the twins. She attempted to drink water from a pond in Lycia, but the peasants refused her to do so by stirring the mud at the bottom of the pond. Latona turned them into frogs for their hospitality, forever doomed to swim the murky waters of ponds and rivers.


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