barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


Hieronymus Cock (around 1510-1570)

Mercury and Argus

The Netherlands, around 1558

Etching

227 x 324 mm

In this print, the narrative of Mercury and Argus (from Ovid’s Metamorphoses) is dwarfed by the fantastic landscape. In keeping with Flemish tradition, Cock depicts all elements of nature: woodland, mountain ranges, river, fields and animals. This print features Mercury attempting to lull the giant Argus into a deep sleep before beheading him. Mercury has been sent to watch Jupiter by Juno, Jupiter’s wife, after she found him seducing Io. To escape, Jupiter has disguised himself as a cow, as shown in the foreground. 

Purchased November 1957, for £10

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