Modern and Contemporary Art
Leda and the Swan
Marie Laurencin, French, 1885 - 1956
Oil on canvas
1978-173-1Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. G. Chaplin, 1978
LabelLeda and the Swan was a popular subject for modern artists, who enjoyed its themes of transformation and seduction. According to Greek mythology, the god Zeus changed himself into a swan to seduce Leda, the wife of Tyndareus, the king of Sparta. In Marie Laurencin's version, which was influenced by her work for the Ballets Russes in Monte Carlo, Leda caresses the swan's feathered neck and back, yet the black railing that separates them suggests an insurmountable division between the sexes, perhaps reflecting Laurencin's own position as one of the few female artists within the French avant-garde.
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