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The Fall of Phaethon
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The Fall of Phaethon

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description The story of Phaeton, or Pheathon, is described in "The Metamorphoses" by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC-AD 17). Son of the sun-god Helios, Phaeton once decided to drive his father's chariot across the sky. When he lost control of the horses, endangering the earth, Jupiter killed him with a thunderbolt. Here, Phaeton's mourning sisters are being transformed into trees. Ovid wrote that their tears became amber, carried away by the Eridanus River (today known as the Po River), symbolized by the reclining river god. The swan is Cycnus, Phaeton's friend who was transformed through his grief into a bird. Bernardi, one of the most important engravers of rock crystal of the Renaissance, made this piece in Rome for Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici (1511-35). It copies a famous design by Michelangelo.
Date Description Narrative
4/02/1981Examinationexamined for loan
5/02/1984Examinationexamined for exhibition
  • The Taste of Maryland: Art Collecting in Maryland 1800-1934. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984.
  • Vita di Michelangelo. Ente Casa Buonarroti, Firenze. 2001-2002.
  • Déjà Vu? The Repeating Image in Renaissance and Baroque Art. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2007-2008.
  • Michelangelo Divine Draftsman and Designer . The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 2017-2018.
Provenance Strozzi family, Florence. Raoul Heilbronner, Paris; purchased by Henry Walters, Baltimore; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Inscriptions [Signature] At center bottom of panel: IOVANES
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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1531-1535 (Renaissance)
Panel: rock crystal; Frame: silver, gilded silver, enamel
Accession Number
H: 3 1/8 × W: 2 3/4 × D: 5/16 in. (8 × 7 × 0.8 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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