Leda and the Swan

Renderings of Leda and the swan are good items to "collect" when wandering through museums and towns. The topic goes back to Greek mythology, relating how Zeus, the CEO of the Gods, raped Leda while being a swan. Leda was the daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius and the wife of the Spartan king Tyndareus. She was thus a simple human and probably just too pretty or sexy to be left alone by some deity that happened to fly by in the form of a swan.
Zeus, disguised as swan for some reason of his own, was pursued by an eagle, dived and fell into Leda's arms for protection, and did what he intended all along. While one can't help wondering about certain technical aspects of the performance, Leda conceived and gave birth to two healthy eggs, from which hatched beautiful "Helen of Troy" plus assorted other Greek celebrities like the Dioskouri Castor and Pollux (or Polydeuces) and Clytemnestra. One of the eggs seems to have been of the many-yolk variety.
Here is the hatching of Helen:
   
 
Helena hatching from Leda's egg
Helena hatching from Leda's egg
Source: Greek vase; Photographed in the art museum in Kiel, Germany
     
  That's a painting on a Greek vase (a "pelike", to be exact) from around 360/50 BC. The guy hovering above the scene is Eros. Leda doesn't seem to be overjoyed.
Now you see why studying the "classics" is considered to be so much more fun compared to studying fracture mechanics, for example.
     
   
Leda: archaeological museum bari, Italy
Helena hatching from Leda's egg
Source: Greek vase; Photographed in a museum in Bari, Italy
     
Here is another hatching of Helena. It's an "Apulian red-figure bell krater, 4th B.C." and I found it in the Bari Provincial Archaeological Museum". I have no idea what the guy is trying to do (or what's that thing hanging out of his underpants). Probably a kind if antique midwife.
Ancient artists had plenty of ways to express nudity and human interactions of all kinds in their works; they didn't need the Leda myth to get them going. Artists therefore did not get obsessed with the Leda topic before the renaissance around 1500. But then about everybody who was somebody in the art establishment, from Leonardo da Vinci to modern artists, did one or more Leda's.
The sixteenth-century popularity was due to the little perversity that depicting a woman in the act of copulation with a swan was more acceptable than showing the same procedure with a man. Considering that today it is far more acceptable in certain societies to depict the killing of humans in great detail than to show a breast, I'll go with renaissance perversity and take the Leda's.
The Leda-and-the-swan topic may have been used for producing a save "ersatz" porno, but that alone cannot explain the fascination of artists (and their customers) with the subject for centuries to come.
I'm not sure if the male or female mind is more tickled by this, or if a swan's neck plus head should be seen as a phallic symbol.
Anyway, here are a few. Most I have collected myself; a few are from other sources.
     
Leda and the swan, Rubens, Dresden
Rubens version in Dresden; Germany
     
Leda and the swan; Rubens, London
Rubens version in London, Great Britain
  It saves a lot of time and effort if you copy from yourself.
     
   
Leda and the swan; Berlin, Correggio
Correggio's version from 1532; found in Berlin.
His real name is actually Antonia Allegri.
     
   
Leda and the swan; Berlin
Modern version done with fluorescent tubes; Berlin, Germany
     
     
Leda and the swan; bronze sculpture
Bronze sculpture in a store in Copenhagen, Denmark, 2012
     
     
Leda and teh swand in porcellain
Porcelain Leda in silk stockings and the swan
This is a modern porcelain (china) version from Kati Zorn, taken from her exhibition "Mythos und Erotik - Porzellankunst aus Thüringen" shown in Eisenach, Germany, in 2012.
     
     
Leda and the swan in status nascendi
A somewhat rougher version cut out of a tree trunk and not yet finished
Wood sculpture found in an artists yard in Sesslach near Coburg, Germany
     
Here comes a joke:
     
Leda (disguised as swan) and the swan in front of the City Hall
in Oslo, Norway
     
That is a joke, of course, but also a possible starting point to look at the symbolism behind swans. Lohengrin (by Wagner) features a noble youth turned into a swan, and Wayland the smith started his career by raping some valkyries who came flying by in the shape of swans but changed into beautiful maidens after being caught as shown here:
     
Valkyries or swanmaidens in Oslo
Alrund, Svankit and Alvit, valkyries or swan maidens,
according to need; I guess
Woodcutting adoring City Hall in Oslo, Norway. Wayland (called Volund there) "marries" Alvit after taking here by force.
     
Here is modern one that I didn't collect myself but found in the Net. It's just too good to pass.
 
 
Leda and the swan from Zeinanov
Leda and the Swan
Bronze Sculpture by Sculptor Igor Zeinalov (http://www.zeinalov.com)
     
Back to the roots. Here is a Leda from Crete, 1st - 2nd century AD. The guy at the left is Eros. From basic geometry we might conclude that Zeuss is carrying a rather long sword.
 
Lea and the swan from Crete
Leda and the swan in Crete, enjoying
Leda and the Swan
The experience seems to be enjoyable for all parties invulved.
Source: Photgraphed in the Archeological museum in Heraklion
     
Here is a Leda I found in Rhodos on some market. A modern Greek interpretation of the old topic. Note that the swan seems to be less enthusiastic than Leda about what is to commence.
 
Leda and the swan; modern greek version
Leda and the (famished looking) Swan
Source: Photgraphed somwhere on Rhodos (I believe)
     
Here is a Leda I found in the Catherine Palace (town of Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), 25 km south-east of St. Petersburg).
 
Leda and swan in the Catherine Palace
Leda and the Swan (discussing terms?)
Source: Photographed 2015 in the Catherine Palace.
     
Frederick the Great, King of Prussia from 1740 until 1786 had a nice weekened retreat in Potsdam, the summer palace Sanssouci. In there you find this Leda:
 
Leda and swan in Sanssouci
Leda and swan (plus understudy?)
Source: Photographed 2016 at Sanssouci
     
Rome has many museums and you'll find a Leda or two in most of them. Or right at some roadside:
 
 Leda and swan at road crossing in Rome
Who is forcing attention on whom here?
Source: Photographed 2016 at a road crossing in Rome
     
The next few one can be found in the Villa Borghese:
     
   
Leda and swan; Villa Borghese; Rome
Leda and swan, engaged in discussing elementary particle physics or something, with an Eros on the side reminding them on the business on hand. Full marble sculpture.
Grupo di Leda sedente e Amorini con testa ritratto di Antonia Minore: testa ca. 35 d.C.; whatever that means
Source: Photographed 2016 at in the Villa Borghese in Rome
     
   
Leda and swan; Villa Borghese; Rome
Leda and swan, once more engaged in serious discussions
Imperial Rome, 2nd century AD
Source: Photographed 2016 at in the Villa Borghese in Rome
 
Leda and swan; Villa Borghese; Rome
Leda and swan; copy from Leonardo, ca. 1620
Source: Photographed 2016 at in the Villa Borghese in Rome
     
In Genua, Italy, you find a great sculpture of the swan (sans Leda) being all excited about the Dioskouri Castor and Pollux (or Polydeuces) just hatching from the (obviously double-yolk) egg that Leda produced
 
Leda and swan; Genua
Leda and swan (Leda is at the bathroom at the moment)
Bernardo Schiaffino; Genova 1678 - 1725. Il cignio con Elena e Polluce
Source: Photographed 2016 in soem Genova palace
     
Here is a modern Leda from the artist Saad Alei Iraq / Spain. The picture was shown in the big art exhibition "Nordart 2015" in Büdelsdorf, Germany. Saad Ali addresses certain technical questions; his work is entitled "And What Now?"
 
Leda and what now? Saad Ali
And What Now?
Source: Photographed 2015 at the Büdelsdorf "Nordart"
     
In Aug. 2017, while mentally preparing for the upcoming "Götterdämmering", I found this somewhat weather-beaten Leda in Bayreuth:
 
Leda and the swan: Bayreuth
Looks like they are negotiating
Source: Photographed 2017 in the "Eremitage" in Bayreuth
     
  You have to walk around in the "Eremitage", a huge park plus assorted castles, waterworks, palais' and what not, going back to 1715 and - judging from the kind of art expressed in innumerable sculptures and other things - wholly dedicated to playing Leda and the swan.
     
The next Leda was a totally unexpected find in the Berlin "Tierpark" - the Berlin zoo, right in the center of the city, in other words.
 
Leda and the swan: Berlin Tierpark
"Sorry, but no means no"
Source: Photographed 2017 in the "Tiergarten" (zoo) Berlin
     
  Mommies with their little innocent kiddies go there. I wonder what kind of stooy the invent to go with the sculpture.
     
The Ufficis in Florence, world famous art museum, have an interesting Leda or better Ledo:
 
Ledo and the (female) swan
Leda, after her operation now Ledo, and the (female?) swan
Source: Photographed 2018 in the ufficis, Florence
     
  It's a Roman copy of the Greel original showing Ganymed; the most beautiful young man of his time: So Zeuss, this time as an eagle, abducts him for sinister purposes.
Of course Florence does have real Leda's, too. Here is one that is on display in a shop specializing on bronze copies of original sculptures.
     
   
Leda and the swan; Florence
Leda and the swan assuming the missionary position
Source: Photographed 2018 in the ufficis, Florence
     
     
   
Leda and the swan; Florence
Leda and the swan assuming the missionary position
Source: Photographed 2018 in the ufficis, Florence
     
Finally, a somewhaht unusual Etruscan Leda:
     
   
Leda and the swan; Florence
Leda, are you in there?
Etruscan (4th century BC). Possibly imported form Greece. Archeological Museum
Source: Photographed 2018 in the ufficis, Florence
     
The "Altes Museum" in Belin is full of exquisite stuff from the olde Greeks - but the best Leda I coul find is this rather poor example:
 
Leda, Berlin, Altes Museum
1st century BC; Roman marble
Source: Photographed 2018 in the "Altes Museum", Berlin
     
     
Im 2018 I found a somewhat unexpected Leda in the big Leipzug art museum. The "Leipzig School" of modern painters was (and is) very famous. Arno Rink, who did the Leda here, has quite a presence in the huge museum
   
Arno Rink, 1994, "Leda und der Schwan"
Source: Photographed in the Leipzig art museum 2018
     
Here is a Roman Leda, found in the "Villa de Ariana" in Pompeii. We have a beautiful Leda
and a somewhat piddly swan, leaving questions as to technical details wide open.
Maybe it's the thought that counts here
   
Leda and the swan; Pompeii
Source: Photographed in the Naples Archaeological Museum 2018
     

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