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Title The Death of Hippolytus
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist French School
After Vernet, Carle (French painter, draftsman, and lithographer, 1758-1836)
Previously attributed to Girodet de Roucy-Trioson, Anne-Louis (French painter and illustrator, 1767-1824)
Date Earliest about 1800
Date Latest about 1820
Description Hippolytus was the son of Theseus and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. He incurred the wrath of Phaedra, his step-mother, by refusing her advances. She accused him before Theseus of offering violence to her. Theseus asked Poseidon to punish his son who fled along the sea-shore. There his horses were so frightened by the noise of the sea monsters sent by Neptune that they bolted among the rocks until Hippolytus's chariot was broken and he was killed.

The story of Hippolytus was made into a drama by Euripides who explored the theme of Hippolytus' hubris which means his arrogance before the gods. In his case, his pride and arrogance over his personal purity led him reject Phaedra so violently that she revenged herself, ultimately leading to his own downfall.

Current Accession Number 1960P46
Former Accession Number P.46´60
Subject mythology (Death of Hippolytus)
Measurements 71.8 x 97.2 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on paper [?]
Acquisition Details Purchased from Julius Weitzner 1960.
Publications Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983, no. 66, ill.
Notes Labels on back '22/25'; 'La Mort d'Hippolyte par Girodet/ Girodet Trioson/ no. 26'; '51241 W/ girodet trioson'.

Carle Vernet exhibited a drawing in black chalk, La Mort d'Hippolyte at the Salon of 1800, no. 374 of which this is a copy. The drawing was so popular that another artist produced an engraving of it for the 1808 Salon (Jean Godefroy [;]). This painting must be based on the engraving as it reverses Vernet's original composition. Vernet's original drawing was exhibited with its pendant Un Conducteur showing a charioteer returning home with his mistress driving the horses. This was copied by Girodet in oils (Musée des Beaux Arts, Rouen). There is also a drawing in the Louvre (790) catalogued as Gros. The recto shows a stage in the development of Géricault's Officier des Chasseurs and the verso shows a partial copy of the Hippolytus. However, this just shows that Vernet's drawings were popular and copied by more than one artist (whether that be Gros or Gericault).

Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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