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    Sale 2134

    Old Master and 19th Century Drawings

    29 January 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 51

    French School, 17th Century

    Apollo and the chariot of the Sun

    Price Realised  


    French School, 17th Century
    Apollo and the chariot of the Sun
    black chalk and bodycolor on paper laid down on canvas, a cartoon
    132½ x 155 1/8 in. (3366 x 3940 mm.)

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    That this impressive and large tapestry cartoon remains extant, not pricked or incised for transfer, is probably due to the fact that it was never used to be woven.
    The exact iconography and the attribution remain a matter of debate. Apollo crowned with laurels and aided by a female attendant is calming the four horses leading the chariot of the Sun as three winged figures (the Hours?) hold the solar rays. In the upper left are five gods seated on clouds, four of whom can be recognized by their traditional attributes: Diana, Juno, Minerva and Jupiter.
    Does the scene represent the preparation of Apollo's chariot in the story of Phaeton or an allegory of the end of the day? In favor of the latter interpretation are the absence of Phaeton (although the cartoon could have been cut), the attitudes of the winged figures who seem to extinguish the sun rays and the presence of a tomb in the left background, symbol of the ephemeral nature of life.
    In terms of attribution the names that have been suggested - Issac Moillon (circa 1580-1673), Charles Poërson (1609-1667) and Pierre Mosnier (1641-1703) - are not entirely satisfactory but at least indicate a time frame for the execution of this cartoon. A dating to the second half of the 17th Century seems to be confirmed by the presence of Apollo and the chariot of the Sun, symbols of King Louis XIV who reigned from the end of the regency of his mother in 1651 until his death in 1715.


    Ebenezer Burgess Warren, Philadelphia, by 1910.