William Hilton II, 1786 - 1839


William Hilton II 1786 - 1839


A dramatic depiction of Phaeton in his father's chariot. Phaeton is seen at close quarters, in profile to the right, from the side of the chariot; he places a hand on the top of his lowered head in a gesture of failure and despair, leaning his muscular arm against the curved arm of the chariot; his eyes are wide, mouth open and brow furrowed, with his lengthy hair trailing down his neck. Acanthus swag ornamentation embellishes the side of the chariot.

Display Label

Phaeton about 1820 William Hilton 1786-1839 Oil on canvas Phaeton was the son of the sun-god Phoebus. He pestered his father into borrowing the chariot used to carry the sun's rays across the earth. Ignoring Phoebus' instructions, Phaeton drove recklessly and lost control. The chariot came too close to the earth and caused terrible fires. Jupiter intervened by hitting him with a thunderbolt and he crashed to his death in the River Po. Hilton gives us a close-up of the doomed figure rather than an overall account of the myth: the human element is typically to the fore in the Romantic classicism of the early 1800s. Transferred from the Royal Manchester Institution 1882.18

Object Name


Creators Name

William Hilton II

Date Created

1820 (circa)


Canvas: 63.5cm x 76.2cm
Frame: 79cm x 94cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint

On Display

[G4] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 4
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Transferred from the Royal Manchester Institution.


© Manchester Art Gallery

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