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The Story of Hippo
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The Story of Hippo

Description Conservation Provenance Credit
Description The ancient Greek tale of the virtuous maiden Hippo unfurls over a sprawling landscape of rolling hills and medieval castles. As first told by the Roman writer Valerius Maximus (1st century CE) and retold by the medieval Italian poet Boccaccio (1313-1375), Hippo was abducted by a band of pirates while walking along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Fearing the pirates would sexually assault her, Hippo threw herself from the ship, thereby preserving her chastity. Hippo’s abduction appears at the center right, where she is shown carried away by three pirates. At the left, her companions cry out for help to a group of Roman soldiers, and at the right, she leaps from the pirate ship and into the sea. The horizontal shape of this painting indicates that it was originally inserted into the front of a “cassone,” a large storage chest commonly found in the domestic interiors of Renaissance Italy. Cassoni were typically commissioned for marriages as part of the bride’s trousseau. Their fronts were often painted with stories that exemplified certain virtues or morals to which the young bride was expected to aspire. In this case, Hippo was likely viewed as a model example of the virtue of chastity. Though most recent discussion of the painting has attributed it to the Sienese painter and miniaturist Pellegrino di Mariano, it was long attributed to his teacher, Giovanni di Paolo (for whom also Walters 37.489A-D and 37.554), with whom Pellegrino is sometimes indistinguishable.
Date Description Narrative
1/07/1958Treatmentstabilized; coated
7/01/1970Treatmentcleaned; coated; loss compensation
11/01/1984Treatmentloss compensation; coated
6/01/1987Treatmentloss compensation
1/01/1998Treatmentcleaned; stabilized; loss compensation
4/23/1998Technical Reportexamined for technical analysis
Provenance Cernuschi, Udine [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Simonetti, Rome, 1907 until 1913 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Bottenwieser, Berlin [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; William T. / Henry Walters Collection, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown] (?); Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by William T. or Henry Walters (?)

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ca. 1460 (Renaissance)
tempera on wood panel
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H with engaged frame: 19 7/8 x W: 54 1/16 x D: 1 3/8 in. (50.5 x 137.3 x 3.5 cm); Visible painted surface H: 16 9/16 x W: 51 3/16 in. (42 x 130 cm); Panel reverse H: 50 5/16 x W: 15 15/16 in. (127.8 x 40.5 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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