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About This Artwork
Phaedre, Having Declared Her Passion, Attempts to Kill Herself with the Sword of Hippolytus, c. 1801
Pen and brush and black and brown wash and graphite, heightened with white gouache on cream laid paper
345 x 242 mm
Major Acquisitions Centennial Endowment, 1997.303
In 1795 Girodet began to produce drawings for book plates for the Didot publishing firm, and he executed 10 drawings for an illustrated edition of the works of the great French dramatist Jean Racine. This study shows Phaedra, believing her husband King Theseus to be dead, divulging her love for her chaste stepson Hippolytus, who rejected her even when she threatened to kill herself.
— Exhibition label, Master Drawings Unveiled: 25 Years of Major Acquisitions, August 27, 2016–January 29, 2017, Galleries 124–127.