Semiramis Fed by the Doves
(before 1810), oil, canvas, 103 x 164 cm
NG S 3356, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
Not far away from the Syrian Ascalon, there is a large and deep lake swarming with fish. On its shore there was a place sacred to the Syrian goddess Derceto, who had the upper portion of a woman and the lower part of her body was that of fish. The goddess of love, Aphrodite, bore a grudge against her and in revenge made Derceto fall in love with a hadsome priest in her own temple. A daughter was born from their relationship, of whom Derceto was ashamed. So she exposed her baby, did away with her father, threw herself into the lake and turned into a fish. In the place where the baby was exposed doves had their nests and they brought up the girl. Some of them would warm her with their wings, others would bring milk in their beaks. When the child was one year old and needed more food, the doves would steal bits of cheese from the nearby shepards. The latter were curious about this and before long they found the reason. They discovered the little babe, who was of great beauty, and took her to the chief of the royal herds who was childless. He gave her the name Semiramis, which means in Syrian the " doves ".
Preservation: Flaxen canvas, chalk ground.
Restored: 2006, Kemal Selmanović, Ljubljana
Provenance: Before 1810: painted for Palais Auersperg in Vienna; 1953: the painting in the Kronprinz Rudolf Saal was bought, together with the palace, by consul Alfred Weiss. After his death in 1974, the palace was sold in 1987.
Exhibition: Franc Kavčič/Caucig; Paintings for Palais Auersperg in Vienna; National Gallery of Ljubljana, 24 October 2007 - 10 February 2008
Lit: Annalen 1810, p. 359 (several scenes from Gessner's Idylls and after Athenaeus in the palace of prince Auersperg in Vienna ); Boeckh 1825, p. 328 8 twelve paintings, part landscapes part histories ); Kukuljević 1858, p. 153 (various paintings showing the " environs " and historical scenes ); Palais Auersperg, c. 1957, p. 23 ( Green Hall, overdoors showing mythological scenes are good works by an Italian painter of the end of 18th c. ). Rozman 1978, p. 152.