LL 718


Pandora, the first woman, was fashioned by Vulcan at the order of Jupiter and endowed with life by Minerva. She was given to Epimetheus, whose brother, Prometheus, had offended Jupiter by giving fire to mortals. Jupiter gave Pandora a vase but forbade her from opening it. It contained evils and diseases then unknown to man. When she succumbed to temptation and removed the lid, all flew out leaving behind only Hope as a comfort to mankind. Pandora was not an unknown subject for artists of this period, but was often depicted with a box rather than a vase. Here Gibson chooses to represent the moment immediately before she disastrously disobeys Jupiter. He also painted the statue to make it more lifelike, but only traces remain on Pandora’s clothing and the box. Gibson may well have met the 2nd Duke of Wellington, the original commissioner of 'Pandora', through his abortive involvement in the design of a monument to the 1st Duke of Wellington.