About this artwork

This work depicts a tale from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where Battus watched Mercury hiding stolen cattle but promised secrecy to the god. However, Mercury was suspicious and returned in disguise to bribe the old man to reveal the herd’s whereabouts. Battus told this ‘stranger’ immediately and Mercury turned him into a rock. In the foreground of the painting, Mercury talks to old Battus. He is disguised as a shepherd, but Pynas included his winged hat and shoes to make him identifiable to the viewer. The large stone statue of an old man in the background undoubtedly refers to Battus’s fate. Once believed to have taught Rembrandt, Pynas is best known for his small history paintings in the style of Adam Elsheimer.

  • title:
    Landscape with Mercury and Battus
  • accession number:
    NG 2744
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • materials:
    Oil on panel
  • date created:
    Dated 1637
  • measurements:
    40.00 x 26.50 cm (framed: 42.80 x 55.60 cm)
  • credit line:
    Purchased by the Patrons of the National Galleries of Scotland 2002
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve

Jacob Pynas

Jacob Pynas