The Death of Hippolytus
  • Conrad Martin Metz
  • Bonn 1749 - 1827 Rome
  • The Death of Hippolytus, 1820
  • Pen and brush in brown ink over black chalk,
    partly heightened with white, on light-brown paper.
  • signed and dated on the lower right: C. M. Metz / Roma 1820
  • 393 × 527 mm
Hon. Robert Otway-Cave, Rome,
his widow Sophia Otway-Cave, née Burdett

Metz received a thorough training under Francesco Bartolozzi in London. There he mostly made engravings and aquatints, frequently after exemplary Baroque and Renaissance drawings. In 1802, Metz moved to Rome where he developed his own brand of classicism, particularly in the field of drawing.

For his works on paper, he preferred nearly monochromatic drawings in sepia, given strong accents through localized white heightening, as demonstrated by the sheet shown here. Metz readily drew upon the sculpture of antiquity or made use of his own works in his treatment of themes from classical mythology. Thus, the upper body of Hippolytus corresponds to the central figure of a drawing in the same technique, also made in Rome in 1820 (Fig.1).

In the ancient legend, at his father Theseus’ command Hippolytus was dragged to death by his own horses after Poseidon and his bull had driven the animals into a panic. The motive was the false suspicion that Hippolytus had betrayed his father with his stepmother Phaedra.