Landscape with Phaeton's Petition to Apollo

WAG 1999.58


In his poem Metamorphoses, the Roman poet Ovid retold the story of Phaeton, who petitioned his father Apollo, the Sun God, to let him drive his chariot across the sky for one day. As Apollo feared, Phaeton was unable to control the chariot, and in order to save the world Jupiter was forced to destroy him with a thunderbolt. This is one of four large canvases commissioned from Wilson in 1763 by Henry Blundell of Ince, north of Liverpool. The subjects chosen were ones for which Wilson was already well known. His smaller version of Phaeton had just been exhibited at the Society of Artists and purchased by the Duke of Bridgewater. With the aid of studio assistants, Wilson completed the commission for Blundell four years later.