About this artwork

Phaeton, son of Apollo the sun god, hurtles out of his father's horse-drawn carriage after losing control. According to the story in Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' Jupiter intervened and to avoid a catastrophe sent Phaeton to earth on a thunderbolt. Reni omits the chariot from his drawing and concentrates in the composition on Phaeton and the horses forming a rhythmical, swirling pattern. This was ideally suited to the location of the painting for which it was a preparatory study: a ceiling fresco in the former Zani Palace in Bologna. It is one of Reni's most impressive early drawings.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    The Fall of Phaeton
  • date created:
    About 1596 - 1600
  • materials:
    Pen and brown ink and wash heightened with white over black chalk on paper
  • measurements:
    37.50 x 32.50 cm
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Purchased 1974
  • accession number:
    D 5011
  • gallery:
    View by Appointment
  • depicted:
  • subject:
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Guido Reni

Guido Reni