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Victoria & Albert Museum, London
William Woollett (1735-1785) after Wilson
Etching and engraving
Landscape with Phaeton and Apollo in the centre. Phaeton kneels before his father, asking permission to drive the chariot of the sun across the heavens for one day. There are nymphs to the right and left, a flock of sheep and a shepherd on the next hill. The river Styx can be seen behind and there is a temple and castle, with the rays of the sun over it.
Lettered below the image:
[1] Upper left: Riccardo Wilson dipinsi
[2] Lower centre: A Sua Eccelenza il Signor Duca d'Hamilton e Brandon / Marchese di Douglas, etc.
The narrative comes from the first part of the story as told by Ovid in Metamorphoses, Book 2, ll. 31-102, where Apollo agrees to grant his son, Phaeton, any wish he desires as a proof of paternity. In response Phaeton asks to be allowed to drive his father's chariot across the sky for one day - with disastrous consequences.
P119A Landscape with Phaeton's Petition to Apollo, Private Collection
The significance of the inscription remains obscure, though it suggests that the composition was extant during Wilson's years in Italy. However, no version of the painting is known to have belonged to James, 6th Duke of Hamilton (1724-1758), nor is he recorded as having visited Italy. James the 7th duke died in 1769 aged 14 but his brother Douglas the 8th duke was in Italy from October 1775 to June 1776. It seems likely, therefore, that the dedication of this reduced copy of E12 etc. was intended for him.
DYCE COLLECTION. A Catalogue of the Paintings, Miniatures, Drawings, Engravings, Rings and Miscellaneous Objects Bequeathed by The Reverend Alexander Dyce, London : South Kensington Museum, 1874, p. 271; Fagan 1885, pp. 22-23, cat. LI,
Trimmed to within the platemark