Oct 2, 2007

The Fall of Phaeton

The Fall of Phaeton

c. 1545

Nicolas Beatrizet

(French, active Italy, 1507 or 1515-about 1565)

after Michelangelo Buonarroti

(Italian, 1475–1564)


Support: Blued white laid paper

Sheet: 41.9 x 29 cm (16 1/2 x 11 7/16 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard H. Zinser 1965.458

Catalogue raisonné: Bartsch 38 (XV.258)



Michelangelo gave a finished drawing of the Fall of Phaeton to his close friend Tommaso de’ Cavalieri in 1533. Almost immediately, copies of the drawing were made in the form of plaques and prints without direct involvement from Michelangelo himself. This engraving by a French artist working in Rome closely follows Michelangelo’s composition for the scene but adds landscape elements in the background. In this myth from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Phaeton, son of the sun-god Helios, drives his father’s chariot across the sky but loses control, endangering the earth. Zeus intercedes to kill him with a thunderbolt. Below, Phaeton’s mourning sisters transform into trees.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 

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