Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
“The Fall of Phaeton” (1604)
Oil on canvas
Located in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, United States
Phaeton, son of the sun god Helios, asked his father for some proof that would demonstrate his relationship with the sun. When the god promised to grant him whatever he wanted, he insisted on being allowed to drive the sun chariot for a day. Placed in charge of the chariot, he was unable to control the horses. The Earth was in danger of being burnt up and, to prevent this disaster, Zeus was forced to strike down the chariot with a thunderbolt and kill Phaeton in the process.