Apollo and Daphne
Enlarge (38MB) Zoom in
This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Jan Boeckhorst
Flemish, about 1640
Black chalk, pen and brown ink, watercolor, and white gouache heightening
8 11/16 x 9 1/8 in.

Add to Getty Bookmarks

This drawing depicts a crucial moment in a myth from Ovid's Metamorphoses when a nymph, Daphne, is transformed into a laurel tree to escape the advances of the love-struck god Apollo. Daphne is frozen mid-stride, her torso stiffening like the trunk of a tree. With shock and fear, she stares up at the green shoots erupting from her raised arm and the branches replacing her head of wavy hair.

Jan Boeckhorst dramatized this brief moment with a dynamic composition and vibrant sketching technique. The figures stand robustly in the center of the composition, their colorful robes appearing to fly off of their shoulders as if caught by a gust of wind. Vigorous, diagonal strokes fill the sky and figures, adding a substantial sense of movement. Staccato dabs of green shoot from Daphne's tapered fingers as her flesh turns to flora. Even Apollo's crown of laurel leaves seems to sprout from his head, echoing Daphne's emerging foliage.

Boeckhorst's drawing served as a compositional study for a tapestry illustrating the same subject. The tapestry is one of eight depicting the myths of Apollo.