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Theodoor van Thulden (1606-1669)
Theodoor van Thulden (1606-1669)

The Death of Phaeton

Theodoor van Thulden (1606-1669)
The Death of Phaeton
oil on canvas
227 x 190.8 cm
Mr. Jenner, Hilversum (label on the stretcher).
A. Roy, Theodoor van Thulden, een Zuidnederlandse Barokschilder, exhibition catalogue, 's Hertogenbosch/Strassbourg, 1991, p.60, no.63, ill., with incorrect measurements and as present whereabouts unknown.

Lot Essay

The present lot depicts the Death of Phaeton, the impetuous son of Aurora and Cephalus, with whom Venus, shown in the upper right hand corner and attended by Cupid, fell in love. She made him guardian of her temple, so that she could watch over him and enjoy him at night. Jupiter, learning about the affair, became jealous and destroyed him with his thunderbolts.
The subject is taken from Euripides and is rare in Dutch and Flemish painting of the 17th century. It was used for the moral purposes and mostly displayed in council chambers or civic halls. Phaeton was after all an impetuous person, whose behaviour should never be repeated by local authorities.
The size of the present lot suggests an identical original display, the modello probably being the picture, now in a private collection in The Netherlands, measuring 114 x 81 cm (A. Roy, op.cit., p.262, no.64, ill., with wrong measurements).
As suggested by Roy, op. cit., under no.63, the present lot can be dated on stylistic grounds circa 1645. Characteristic is the warm colour scheme remnisceant of Rubens' in the 1630's, the flowing outlines of the bodies and the contrast of light and dark.
By the middle of the 1640's Van Tulden had returned to his native Oirschot in Brabant after a stay of almost ten years in Antwerp. Until 1648, when he took up commission to decorate the Huys ten Bosch in The Hague, he would mostly receive commissions from the city council of Bois le Duc, such as the Allegory of Unity and Justice of 1646 (A. Roy, op. cit., no.72, p.81, fig.55) and the Meierij of 's Hertogenbosch in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (A. Roy, op. cit., cat. no.35, ill.). Only one other mythological subject from the 1640's is known: Perseus and Andromeda, signed and dated 1646, in the Muses des Beaux Arts, Nancy (A. Roy, op. cit., cat. no.32, ill.).

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