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    • James Bowdoin III( Collector, Boston) - 1811.
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art( Museum, Brunswick, Maine) 1811- . Bequest
    • Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
      • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 5/17/1985 - 7/7/1985)
      • Clark Art Institute. ( 9/14/1985 - 10/27/1985)
      • University of Kansas. ( 1/19/1986 - 3/2/1986)
      • Art Gallery of Ontario. ( 5/17/1986 - 6/29/1986)
    • Northern Travelers to Sixteenth-Century Italy
    • Drawing on Basics
      • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 10/14/1993 - 12/19/1993)
    • Myths and Metamorphosis
      • Colby College Museum of Art. ( 11/3/2009 - 1/17/2010)
    • Old Master Drawings from the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
      • Timken Museum of Art. ( 5/13/2005 - 8/14/2005)
    Type: catalogue
    Author: Henry Johnson
    Document Title: Catalogue of the Bowdoin College Art Collections
    Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
    Reference: no. 123
    Remarks: (as Unknown)
    Publisher: Bowdoin College
    Section Title: Pt. I, The Bowdoin Drawings
    Date: 1885
    Type: catalogue
    Author: Bowdoin College Museum of Art
    Document Title: Bowdoin Museum of Fine Arts, Walker Art Building
    Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
    Reference: no. 123
    Remarks: (as Unknown)
    Publisher: Bowdoin College
    Section Title: Descriptive Catalogue of the . . .
    Date: 1930
    Type: exhibition catalogue
    Author: David P. Becker
    Document Title: Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
    Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
    Location: p. 10-11
    Reference: no. 4
    Publisher: Bowdoin College
    Date: 1985

    Floris became a member of the Guild of St. Luke in Antwerp in 1540, having been a student of Lambert Lombard. After 1542, he went to Italy, where he studied ancient art and the works of contemporary masters, particularly Michelangelo. By 1547, Floris was back in Antwerp, where he established a large studio and became one of the most celebrated painters of his time. He decorated and built an elaborate house, which served as an inspiration for Rubens's own house fifty years later. Many of Floris's designs were circulated in some 150 engravings, and his influence was carried on in the work of his many students (numbering close to 120, according to Van Mander).

    Originally classed as anonymous, this sheet was first ascribed by Lugt to a Flemish artist of about 1580.1 Oberhuber then suggested an attribution to Floris, which was affirmed by Van de Velde on the basis of a photograph.2 The drawing is closely related to three other sheets of the same subject by Floris in Paris, Brussels, and Dresden.3 The Louvre drawing is particularly close to the Bowdoin sheet, though somewhat larger. It also includes the figures of the river god Eridanus and Phaeton's sisters. Floris has compressed the figures on the Bowdoin sheet into a tight oval, with Jupiter's eagle practically riding the horses. The horses and Phaeton have been placed very close to the picture plane, and the perspective has been tilted. It is conceivable that this design is a study for a ceiling painting or for a panel high on a wall (as also suggested by Van de Velde in correspondence). Van de Velde dates the Bowdoin drawing ca. 1555 or a little later.

    The story of Phaeton is told by Ovid in the Metamorphoses, book 2, verses 1-400. Floris's depiction owes an obvious debt to Michelangelo's celebrated drawings of the theme. The most finished of these is at Windsor Castle, presented to Tommaso de' Cavalieri in 1533.4 The dramatically upended figure of Phaeton rendered by Floris in the Bowdoin sheet is quite similar to one in a print engraved by Cornells Cort after his design of Hercules and the Pygmies.5 It further recalls the contorted figures in a painting of the Last Judgment in Brussels.6 Crispijn van den Broecke, one of Floris's students, also portrayed the fall of Phaeton in a drawing, now in Munich.7

    1. Visit to the BCMA, 1945.

    2. Letter to the author, 6 July 1982.

    3. Van de Velde 1975, cat. nos. T39, T37, and T38, figs. 136-38.

    4. British Museum, Drawings by Michelangelo (exh. cat.) (London, 1975), cat. no. 126, repr.

    5. Van de Velde 1970, fig. 209.

    6. Ibid., fig. 91.

    7. Wegner 1973, no. 20, pl. 30.

    Commentary credited to David P. Becker (or not otherwise captioned) appeared in his catalogue Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College (Brunswick: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1985).