Art History at a Glance
In a previous discussion about artist Antonio Canova's statue that depicts the legendary figure of Eurydice, we learned the story of how Eurydice died, leaving her husband Orpheus alone and desolate. The musician Orpheus then descended into the Underworld to request that the soul of his wife be released and returned to life. Indeed, Orpheus so charmed Hades (the ruler of the Underworld) that he was granted his wish, but only on one condition - that he not look at the face of his wife until they both safely reached the surface of the earth. Orpheus, however, could not resist temptation, and stole a glance at Eurydice. Immediately, her shade began to float back to the gloomy Underworld. And this is the part of the myth that Canova has captured in his works Orpheus and Eurydice.
For More Information
An article about Orpheus in Classical mythology is available at Mythography.
This beautiful book (which is a part of the Phaidon Art & Ideas series) features information about the Neoclassical style. Author David Irwin has some fascinating chapters, including "The Lure of Italy and Beyond: The Grand Tour", "From Achilles to Wolfe: The Painting of History", and the brilliantly named "Eating your Ice under a Grecian Group: Living with Neoclassicism".