The Newer Model Geryon of 1902
Some readers will recall a series of posts on Dante's Geryon: 1. "Dante's Geryon and a 'Serpentine' Adam?"; 2. "Joseph Anton Koch: Geryon"; 3. "Speaking of Gustave Doré's Geryon . . ."; and 4. "Rivarossa's Jeffryon." Those who do recall will also perhaps recall that the image on the left is Gustave Doré's Geryon, borrowed from Wikipedia. But what of the image on the right? It comes to me by way of Dario Rivarossa, a translator and illustrator in Italy who continues to come across delightful finds and who tells us:
while viewing one of my books on sci-fi illustration, I found this drawing that -- in my opinion -- was surely inspired by Dante's Geryon. It refers to a book published in 1902, "L'automobile volante" (The Flying Car) by Luigi Barberis, whose name is absolutely no more remembered one century later. The artist was a certain Fortunino Matania, another 'unknown' guy. Since I haven't read the book, I cannot say whether any clear hint at Geryon was meant by the writer too.And for those interested in pronouncing "Geryon," Dario tells us:
Btw, I just discovered that my dictionary includes the word "Geryon": it gotta be pronounced with a hard G, as you supposed.Good to know. By the way, Dario is right about Luigi Barberis, for I've found only a handful of online references to this writer and his book, but my friend was surely speaking tongue in cheek about Fortunio Matania, for this artist has a Wikipedia entry. Since he was born in 1881, he would have been a young artist of merely 21 years when L'automobile volante appeared in in 1902. Was he inspired by Dante's Geryon? Several of his later works of illustration suggest an interest in the art and literature of earlier eras, as well as an interest in historical topics: Six Stories from Shakespeare, retold by John Buchan (1934); Raphael and Stella. A Baker's Delight Immortalised in Paint, by Matania (1944); Great Stories from History, ed. Edward Horton and Peter Shellard (1970). Since he died in 1963, that third book was either posthumous or a later edition.
Matania became very popular in the English-speaking world, as he settled in Britain and grew famous for his early depictions of the Great War, among other works of art. According to Wikipedia, he began contributing to the British woman's magazine, Britannia and Eve, soon after it was launched in 1929 and continued contributing for nearly 20 years! There's an amusing anecdote about his work for this magazine:
Generally he managed to include one or two voluptuous nudes in each picture. "The public demanded it," says Matania. "If there was no nude, then the editor or I would get a shower of letters from readers asking politely why not."I infer from this that British women weren't the only ones looking through Britannia and Eve. Their husbands must have furtively perused its pages and secretly sent those disappointed 'fanny' letters.