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The Fall of Phaeton

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The Fall of Phaeton About 1596 - 1600

Not on display

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.

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.


A wall painting applied to fresh, wet plaster so that the coloured pigment is absorbed into the surface of the wall.

Composition, Fresco


  • Acc. No. D 5011
  • Medium Pen and brown ink and wash heightened with white over black chalk on paper
  • Size 37.50 x 32.50 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1974