Ovid Illustrated


Ovid (43 B.C.E.-17 or 18 A.D.E.), La vita et Metamorfoseo d'Ovidio, figurato & abbreuiato in forma d'epigrammi da m. Gabriello Symeoni ([Lyons, France]: Giouanni di Tornes ... , 1559. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2005-0147N. This copy is from the printing collection of Elmer Adler (1884-1962).

In 1557, French artist Bernard Salomon (ca. 1508 or 1510-ca. 1561) created 178 woodcuts for a new translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Ten of the cuts from this series, according to Ruth Mortimer, first appeared in Clement Marot's translation of Ovid in his Oevvres (1549) and a few in various other books.

Two years later, an Italian version by Gabriele Simeoni (1509-1570) was published in the same manner, with Salomon's woodcuts, Simeoni's verse legends in italic letter, and ornamenteal borders throughout. With six of the earlier blocks omitted and fifteen new subjects included, the total number of illustrations is 188.

Salomon was an amazingly prolific draftsman. An attempt at a complete list of his book illustrations can be found at: http://www.studiolo.org/BSProject/Outline3.bs.htm

The Oxford Dictionary of Art gives a brief biography: "French painter, draughtsman and engraver. He was probably from a family of belt-makers in Lyon. He was involved as a master painter in the ephemeral decorations for the ceremonial entries of the Archbishop of Lyon in 1540, of Henry II in 1548 and of the Maréchal de Saint-André in 1550. He designed numerous plates for booksellers in Lyon and probably also engraved them. His vignettes for the Fables d'Esope (1551), the Quadrins historiques de la Bible (1553, 1555), the Figures du Nouveau Testament (1556) and the Métamorphoses d'Ovide figurée (1557) were inspired by the elegant Mannerist art of the Fontainebleau school; they became models for engravers working in Lyon and were widely distributed and copied."