Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto
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|Type||Oil on plaster ceiling|
|Dimensions||300 cm × 180 cm (120 in × 71 in)|
|Location||Villa Ludovisi, Rome|
Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto (c. 1597) is a painting by Italian Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. It is located in the casino of the Villa Ludovisi, Rome. It is unusually painted in oils on plaster. Oil painting is normally on canvas or, less frequently, on wood.
According to an early biographer, one of Caravaggio's aims was to discredit critics who claimed that he had no grasp of perspective. The three figures demonstrate the most dramatic foreshortening imaginable. They contradict claims that Caravaggio always painted from live models.
The painting was done for Caravaggio's patron Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte and painted on the ceiling of the cardinal's garden villa at porta Pinciana, where the cardinal dabbled in alchemy. Caravaggio has painted an allegory of the alchemical triad of Paracelsus: Jupiter stands for sulphur and air, Neptune for mercury and water, and Pluto for salt and earth. Each figure is identified by his beast: Jupiter by the eagle, Neptune by the hippocamp, and Pluto by the three-headed dog Cerberus. Jupiter is reaching out to move the celestial sphere in which the Sun revolves around the Earth. Galileo was a friend of Del Monte but had yet to make his mark on cosmology.