Between Past and Present
Athene Polias, beloved of Boreas Erechtheus
Oil on canvas, 180 x 140 cm. (illustrated top right)
This work recalls The First Consul crossing the Alps at the Great – Saint – Bernard Pass,
Jacques – Louis David’s huge romantic depiction of Napoleon crossing the Alps on his famed grey Arabian stallion, Marengo. (1801). In Casson’s painting, as in David’s, the heroic aspect and scale of the painting fits the image of the great and powerful god of the winds Boreas, in equine guise. The diagonal direction of the composition and circular flow of the horse’s wind-blown mane and tail carry the eye up the hill to the procession’s destination, which is the Temple of Athene Polias, personified in the beauteous Oreithyia whom we glimpse, awaiting her fate. The title refers to the Temple of Athene Polias, which was dedicated to ‘Athene the Filly’ embracing the notion of the horse as goddess and the female as temple. In becoming the lover of the king’s daughter, Oreithyia, and the father of her children, Boreas became as a brothers-in-law to the Athenians, and his name is joined therefore with that of the Athenian king Erechtheus.
Extract pg 11 Frost and Reed Gallery.
Published by Frost & Reed Fine Art Dealers
Text contributions by Andrew Lambirth, Iain Gale, Frost and Reed with the Artist
17 colour plate catalogue
Design by Frost and Reed
Printed in the UK 2009