John Singer Sargent's Apollo in His Chariot with the Hours
(Frontpage)  (More on the MFA)  (What's New)  (Thumbnails Index)  (Refer This Site)

Pop to its' own page
Apollo in His Chariot with the Hours
John Singer Sargent -- American painter 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Stairway Center mural
Near front entrance
Oil on canvas
327.66 x 767.08 cm (129 x 302 in.)
Francis Bartlett Donation of 1912 and Picture Fund 25.640
Jpg: MFA

(See interactive zoom at the MFA

Apollo is the god of light, the patron of music and fine arts.

From:  Gregory Fulghum 
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000  

I have been a long time fan of Sargent....  When I discovered the Boston murals [in Ratcliff's book]...each of the images just "sang" to me.  Never mind I lived in Boston most of my life before I came to Denver, CO. Somehow my parent's must have forgot about the MFA in my childhood. 

The Apollo theme [see also the myth of Phaethon] is one of my favorites and Sargent executed this one to perfection.   There sits Apollo, chasing away darkness, pulling his mighty chariot and light (sunrise) behind him.  Can you say "breathtaking"?  But the real clencher is the horses, which I might mention are the best horses ever executed by any artist in my opinion. 

I was lucky to go to the Palace of Versailles just outside Paris a few years back and there is a colossal fountain in the park with Apollo (presumably Louis XIV) pulling his chariot out of the water with a fantastic team of horses.  I am moderately suspicious that Sargent might have taken artistic license and "borrowed" the  horses, and dare I say... almost mimick the park fountain at Versailles in many aspects.  Sure, the myth is an old myth and imagery is just imagery.  For instance, in religious art, Jesus Christ has the same "look" in almost every image; and image that perpetuates for centuries.  One could argue that the myth of Apollo is perpetuated through the centuries with the same kind of images. 

When you look at the other images of the murals, the concept is "classic mythology" all over again, but Sargent is cunning in his representation and the details.  It has an originality that only Sargent can produce.  However, the Apollo mural is so similar to the Apollo fountain at Versailles, that I wonder if he took a direct reference from Versailles and "re-invented" it just here and there.  Just a guess on my part, nothing concrete or established...and quite frankly it doesn't really have any purpose but to satisfy my curiosity. 

Gregory Fulghum 
Denver, CO 


  • See the year in review 1925

Stairway Ceiling Decorations  
Looking straight up

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston



The chariot of the Sun God rises from the Basin of Apollo at the end of the Great Lawn -- Versailles

Sketch for Apollo in his Chariot with the Hours-Male Figure (MFA Stairway)

Apollo (Study for Apollo and Daphne)
c. 1918-20 

Male nude limbs

Studies of Nude Youth

Hands Study for Apollo in His Chariot with the Hours

Study for the Wheel

One of the Hours

One of the Hours (2)

One of the Hours (3)



Apollo (2)

Horse and Hand

Sketch for Apollo in Chariot

Sketch for Apollo in Chariot (2)

By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2005 all rights reserved
Created 3/25/2002