Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens
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Myth and Majesty: The Humanistic Tradition
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Peter Paul Rubens
Clytie Grieving, 1636
Oil on marouflaged panel, 15.6 x 14.8 cm (painted surface: 14 x 13.3 cm)
Private collection


Catalog Entry by Marjorie E. Wieseman

Ovid recounts the tragic tale of Clytie, daughter of the Babylonian king Orchamus, who loved the sun god Phoebus Apollo beyond all measure (Metamorphoses, 4.256-70). Ignoring the extremity of Clytie's devotion, Apollo turned his amorous attentions to her sister, Leucothoe. In a fit of jealousy Clytie denounced her sister to their father, who punished Leucothoe by burying her alive (she was subsequently transformed by Apollo into a frankincense tree). Distraught over Apollo's continued disregard, Clytie sat unmoving on the bare ground for nine days, taking neither food nor drink, but merely turning her head to follow the movements of the sun across the sky. She was ultimately transformed into the heliotrope, a flower that rotates to follow the rays of the sun throughout the day...


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