Leda and the Swan is a painting by Cy Twombly that portrays the mythological seduction of Leda by Jupiter in the form of a swan. Created in 1962, the painting is a combination of crayon, pencil, and paint that depicts an explosion of energy. The artwork features various recognizable symbols such as hearts and a phallus, adding to the intricacy of the piece. Twombly’s painting represents his interest in classical antiquity, which he nurtured when he moved to Rome in 1957.
The painting has been estimated to sell for between $35-55 million and hasn’t been publicly shown for over 25 years. Twombly’s Leda and the Swan is considered one of his accomplished works and reflects his admiration for classical antiquity, which was prominent in his career. Notably, the Museum of Modern Art in New York houses a sister painting with the same title, adding to the artwork’s interest.
Leda and the Swan is a recurring theme in art history with various interpretations. One famous depiction was a copy created in the sixteenth century after a lost painting by Michelangelo in the National Gallery, London. Furthermore, Cy Twombly’s interest in classical antiquity grew when he moved to Rome and made it his home in the 1950s. This background and artistic style is apparent in the painting’s intricate design and use of various elements to produce a striking piece.