Our Art / Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem / The Fall of The Titans

The Fall of The Titans by Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem

The Fall of The Titans, 1588

Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem

This scene from the Roman poet Ovid’s famous “Metamorphoses” shows the end of an epic battle between the gods. In this war, the Titans, the old gods, were defeated by the Olympians, the younger generation of gods led by Zeus. Here, we see these burly nude warriors cast down into the underworld. The artist paints every contour of their muscular bodies with a realism that was rare for his time. Falling on top of each other, limbs splayed, their faces showing agony and shock, these warriors, from the multitudes falling through the gray misty background, to the ruddy, well-lit specimens in the foreground, give the artist a chance to display his knowledge of anatomy while turning his canvas into the stage for an intensely dramatic mythological scene.

From the playlist
National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen