Arts & Culture

Apollo killing the Cyclops

Domenichino and assistants1616-18

The National Gallery, London
The National Gallery, London

For the subject of this fresco see Apollodorus, 'Library' (3: 10). Apollo slew the one-eyed race of giants, the Cyclops, because they had provided Zeus with the thunderbolts which killed his son, Aesculapius.

The fresco (transferred to canvas) comes from a series painted in the Stanza di Apollo in the garden pavilion at the Villa Aldobrandini, Frascati.

The classical scene was painted as a trompe-l'oeil tapestry, probably by assistants. Domenichino's participation in the painting was likely limited to the portrait of the dwarf in chains at lower right. This member of the Aldobrandini household was depicted in this derisive fashion for his insolence.

An autograph life study of the dwarf (Windsor, Royal Collection) is the only drawing to survive for this composition.

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  • Title: Apollo killing the Cyclops
  • Creator: Domenichino and assistants
  • Date Created: 1616-18
  • School: Italian
  • Physical Dimensions: w1904 x h3163 cm
  • More Info: More Artist Information, Related Group
  • Inventory number: NG6290
  • Artist Biography: Domenico Zampieri, called Domenichino, was one of the main followers of Annibale Carracci. He had probably arrived in Rome by 1602, when Annibale was working in the Palazzo Farnese. Domenichino was important as a painter of classical landscape, following Annibale. The Gallery contains a series of frescoes on mythological themes that he painted for the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati. Domenichino was born in Bologna, and trained there under Ludovico Carracci. In Rome he was also influenced by the works of Raphael, as can be seen in his celebrated frescoes on the life of Saint Cecilia in S. Luigi dei Francesi, probably completed by 1614. He returned to Bologna in 1617, but was active again in Rome in the 1620s, before moving to Naples. Here he frescoed the Cappella del Tesoro of the cathedral in a more markedly Baroque style than his earlier work. He died in Naples in 1641. Both Poussin and Claude were influenced by his work, notably his landscapes.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bought, 1958
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: The National Gallery, London
  • Medium: Fresco, transferred to canvas and mounted on board

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