Skip to Content
Closed today, next open Thursday. Closed today, next open Thursday.

The Fall of Phaeton

A work made of wool and silk, slit and double interlocking tapestry weave.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of wool and silk, slit and double interlocking tapestry weave.


after 1776


After a design based on an etching by Antonio Tempesta (1555–1630), The Fall of Phaeton (Phaetontis casus) from Ovid’s Metamorphoses
Possibly woven at the workshop of Gabriel Babonneix (born 1756?) at the Manufacture Royale d’Aubusson
France, Aubusson

About this artwork

Phaeton’s overweening ambition to guide his father’s chariot of the sun through the sky is recorded in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, as is the disastrous outcome of his attempt, here presented in a dramatic scene that captures the tumultuous moment of Phaeton’s being struck down by a thunderbolt from Zeus. The scalloped valance and matching side curtains that frame the scene link it to The Arrival of Telemachus on Calypso’s Island. The two tapestries are part of a Story of Telemachus suite based on François Fénelon’s Adventures of Telemachus (Les Aventures de Télémaque; 1699), which was originally written as an ethical guide for the education of Louis, Duke of Burgundy (1618–1712), the grandson and heir of Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715). Phaeton’s story—particularly his death, as depicted in this tapestry—conveys the consequences of youthful intrepidity and pride, and like the tapestries’ source material, offers viewers a powerful moral lesson.


Currently Off View




Antonio Tempesta (Designer)


The Fall of Phaeton


Aubusson (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1776–1800


Wool and silk, slit and double interlocking tapestry weave


351.2 × 286.3 cm (138 1/4 × 112 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of William Deering Howe

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions