Ganymede by James Irvine of Drum, 1787

Ganymede, in classical mythology, was a shepherd carried to Olympus by an eagle to be cup-bearer to Jupiter. This canvas, by the painter and art-dealer James Irvine of Drum, younger son of a staunchly-Jacobite Aberdeenshire family, was shown at the Royal Academy in London in 1787. The subject carries a particular meaning within the circles of virtuosi at Rome, many of whom were discreetly homosexual. A bas-relief of Ganymede is prominent in the background of a conversation-piece painted by Franciszek Smuglewicz in 1767, showing James Byres with members of his household, including his partner Christopher Norton.

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