Nov 13, 2012
Oct 28, 2008

Althaea Putting the Fatal Log on the Fire

Althaea Putting the Fatal Log on the Fire


Bernard Picart

(French, 1673–1733)

Red chalk on beige laid paper, incised for transfer

Support: Beige laid paper

Sheet: 29.4 x 27.5 cm (11 9/16 x 10 13/16 in.)

Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2008.360



This drawing depicts a scene from the life of Meleager, a figure from Greek mythology who was prophesied to die when a log in the fireplace at the time of his birth completely burned. At that time, Meleager’s mother, Althaea, put out the log and stowed it away for safekeeping. Years later, in the scene depicted here, Althaea exacts revenge on Meleager for killing her brothers in a dispute. Two Furies, goddesses of vengeance, compel the anguished mother to punish her murderous son by burning the fatal log. Picart made this drawing while overseeing the reproduction of Le Brun’s suite of tapestries narrating tales of Meleager into prints. Picart himself made drawings from the tapestries, of which this sheet is an example. The drawings were then used as guides by printmakers Picart hired to re-create the images as engravings.

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