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The Destruction of Niobe's Children
Collection of Richard L. Feigen
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Destruction of Niobe's Children
c.1765 (undated)
Oil on canvas
45.6 x 61.6 cm
17 15/16 x 24 1/4 in.
P90E
Eleven of Niobe's children are killed in a dramatic, lightning-filled landscape, which owes much to the influence of Gaspard Dughet and to a lesser extent, Joseph Vernet. Wilson's stormy setting emphasises the horror of the narrative by the broken trees, reeds bent with the wind, tumultuous seas, the fire in the distant town, the stormy skies, with lightning striking the mountain and the lurid light on the distant horizon.
London, Tate Gallery 1930 loan exhibition of pictures belonging to Arthur Morrison (no catalogue); Hull 1936 (9); Chicago, Richard L. Feigen & Co., Six Centuries of Myth & Legend, February-April 1988 (31); New York 2010 (8)
Arthur Morrison, Esq., High Barn, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire; Sotheby's London, 19-20 March 1946 (251), bt Chilvers; Phillips Son & Neale, London, 11 Nov. 1980 (84); Dr Richard Levy, New Orleans; Richard L. Feigen & Co. New York
Unsigned; no inscription
This painting is inspired by Ovid'sMetamorphoses, Book 6, lines 144-312. Niobe, daughter of Tantalus and Queen of Thebes, is punished for having dared to suggest, because she had seven sons and seven daughters, that she was superior to the goddess Leto (or Latona). Apollo and Artemis, children of Leto, killed all of Niobe's offspring in revenge and she herself wept until she was turned into stone.
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