The Origin of the Milky Way
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kcrisostomo's picture


Tintoretto cleans up Origin of the Milky Way for Emperor Rudolf II's personal dirty magazine collection.

In this case, it is the god Jupiter fooling around with many mortal women while his wife (and sister), Juno, spends all day sleeping on her bed of clouds. In pure Maury fashion, one of Jupiter’s mortal mistresses, Alcmene, breaks the news that she had birthed him a son, and Jupiter, realizing that he is, in fact, the father, takes proper action for his illegitimate heir. It’s a story we’ve heard a million times. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married, and have babies. Soon, the relationship falls apart, and boy doesn’t look at girl the way he used to. Boy starts sleeping around and suddenly he’s buried in debt trying to pay child support to all his baby mamas. 

For some reason, Juno’s breasts were always engorged with magical milk, and Jupiter knew that all the mortal baby, Heracles (more commonly known as Hercules), needed was a little taste of his sister/wife’s boob juice to acquire immortality. Feeling a wet, sloppy mouth on her nipple, Juno of course wakes up and pushes the hungry baby away, spraying her —er— white fluids in different directions. The milk that flew upward formed the Milky Way, while the milk that sprayed downward fell to the ground and sprouted lilies. I don't think that's what Einstein's theory of relativity meant. 

X-rays reveal that this piece by Tintoretto was painted twice. The first time, it was painted in a rapid manner for a doctor named Tomaso Rangone. Rangone was a Venetian doctor who was neither Venetian nor named Rangone. He was, in fact, called Tomaso Gianotti and was born into a poor family in Ravenna, Italy. However, he made his way up the ranks from poverty and became a doctor, eventually acquiring the Venetian last name Rangone through adoption. He thought of the myth of the origin of the Milky Way as sort of his “motif” since technically, this was known as the first story about adoption, albeit involuntarily. Rangone was also the kind of person to take a theme and really run with it. So like Juno’s breast milk, he sold what he called “magic potions,” claiming that they would let his patients live until they were 120 years old. The doctor ended up making a fortune because unfortunately, there were many people dumb enough not to know the difference between science and magic.

When the doctor died, the painting caught the eye of Ottavio Strada who was an adviser for Emperor Rudolf II. The emperor was an avid collector of all things Dürer and all things Venetian and at the time, he was building his new art collection. Rudy was very particular, so Tintoretto had to clean the painting up a bit from the “rapid” version he had done previously. Though Rudolf had no desire to marry nor create an heir for the throne, he experienced much visual enjoyment from the “erotic” qualities of the painting, because before there were Hugh Hefner’s Playboy bunnies, there were Tintoretto’s nudes

In following the myth, the original painting was believed to have included Alcmene lying on the ground, in a bed of lilies that sprouted from Juno’s breast milk. But in the confusion during the Swedish invasion of Prague, many soldiers looted Rudolf’s art collection, and this part of the canvas was mysteriously lost, perhaps making its way to the private quarters of one soldier, who really visually enjoyed seeing a reclining nude covered in white —er— flowers.

mhoutzager's picture


Mom: "Ok, enough already! Boy, I can't wait until someone invents baby formula..."

Dad: "This used to be mine..."

Upside down angel with blue wings: "Floating, we're floating..."

Angel with yellow greenish wings: "Never mind the pointy stick!"

Cupid: "I have no idea what I'm doing."

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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Origin of the Milky Way (Tintoretto)

The Origin of the Milky Way is a painting by the Italian late Renaissance master Jacopo Tintoretto, in the National Gallery, London, formerly in the Orleans Collection. It is an oil painting on canvas, and dates from ca.1575–1580.

According to myth, the infant Heracles was brought to Hera by his half-sister Athena, who later played an important role as a goddess of protection. Hera nursed Heracles out of pity, but he suckled so strongly that he caused Hera pain, and she pushed him away. Her milk sprayed across the heavens and there formed the Milky Way. With divine milk, Heracles acquired supernatural powers.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Origin of the Milky Way (Tintoretto).