The story of Leda and the Swan is a Greek myth which is told in various versions. Leda, the wife of the king of Sparta, was loved by the god Jupiter. He transformed himself into a swan and came to lie with her. As a consequence of their union she bore the twins Castor and Pollux, who were hatched from eggs. The subject was popular during the Renaissance.
The design appears to derive from a classical motif known from copies after sarcophagus reliefs and gems. The pose is similar to that of Michelangelo's 'Night' (Medici Chapel, Florence).
The work is probably an old copy after a painting of this subject by Michelangelo which he made in 1530, in tempera, for the Duke of Ferrara, but which was sent instead to the King of France.
Leda and the Swan Print
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