Mercury and Argus

circle of Pier Francesco Mola (Coldrerio 1612 – Rome 1666)
National Trust Inventory Number 960237

Category Art / Oil paintings
Date 1630 - 1699
Materials Oil on canvas
Measurements 305 x 483 mm (12 x 19 in)
Place of origin Rome
Collection Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire (Accredited Museum)
On show at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire and North East, National Trust

This scene is taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. One of Jupiter’s many loves was Io, a princess of Argos. When this was discovered by his wife, Juno, she turned Io into a white heifer, and handed the animal over to the hundred-eyed giant, Argus, to guard. Mercury was sent by Jupiter to kill the giant, which he did after first lulling him to sleep with music.

Summary description

Oil painting on canvas, Mercury and Argus, circle of Pier Francesco Mola (Coldrerio 1612 – Rome 1666), late 17th century. The red-and-white draped figure of Mercury, winged hat on head, sits poised to play his pipe. A bearded old man, Argus reclines on the left, with Io, transformed into a white heifer cow, to the far left. Io was a princess from Argos, whom Juno was jealous of because she was loved by Jupiter.


Marked, on reverse of canvas: Sabine, Lady Winn, née d'Hervart, 1764; purchased by the National Trust by private treaty sale from Lord St Oswald in 2010

Credit line

Nostell Priory, The St Oswald Collection (National Trust)

Makers and roles

circle of Pier Francesco Mola (Coldrerio 1612 – Rome 1666), artist


Brockwell 1915 Maurice Walter Brockwell, Catalogue of the Pictures and Other Works of Art in the Collection of Lord St Oswald at Nostell Priory, London 1915, no. 144

Related items

Place of origin Rome (471)
Category Art / Oil paintings (12632)
Collection Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire (Accredited Museum) (9769)
Periods 17th century (33416)
Maker Pier Francesco Mola (Coldrerio 1612 – Rome 1666) (21)
Subjects Mercury (Hermes) (23)
Argus (6)
Io (6)
Object Type Oil painting (14421)

Record Status


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