The Fall of Phaeton
May 10, 2012
My analysis is of the Fall of Phaeton, painted by Peter Paul Rubens sometime around 1605. This painting was created by Rubens while he was studying in Italy from 1600-1608. Rubens used some of the horses that were in a famous battle scene painted by Leonardo da Vinci as models for his painting of The Fall of Phaeton. www.nga.gov/education/classroom/origin_myths/art_phaeton.shtm. 05/8/2012 The subject matter for The Fall of Phaeton came from a Greek Myth that caught Rubens’ imagination. The myth tells the story of Helios, the Sun God, and his mortal son Phaeton. Phaeton is teased by his peers for proclaiming that his father was indeed Helios. To prove that he was telling the truth he asked his father to give him proof to show his peers that he was telling the truth. Helios promised him he could have whatever he asked for. Phaeton asked to drive Helios’ chariot that carried the sun across the sky. Helios had to keep his word, so he allowed Phaeton to drive the chariot knowing that Phaeton lacked the skill and strength to do so. The result was Phaeton’s fall from the heavens and his ultimate death. This fall is what is depicted in Rubens’ famous painting. The Fall of Phaeton is set in a multiple point perspective using a diagonal linear perspective in an oval pattern. Rubens uses this combination of techniques to portray a large amount of action within the scene that he painted. When looking at the painting, one can discern each diagonal line by following the alignment of the subjects within the painting. The atmospheric perspective combined with the depth of field that Rubens used in this painting creates a very active and eye-catching piece of artwork to look at. The white horse on the left side of the painting, as you are facing it, is a perfect example of foreshortening. It appears as though the horse is leaping off from the painting towards you. Another example of foreshortening is seen in the image of...
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