John Singer Sargent's Orestes
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John Singer Sargent -- American painter  
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Stairway Side Aisle mural
Near the Rotunda

Oil on canvas 
347.98 x 317.5 cm (137 x 125 in.) 
Francis Bartlett Donation of 1912 and Picture 
Fund 25.645 
 Jpg: MFA

Here we see Orestes haunted by Furies, the goddesses of vengeance. 

From:  World Book Online Americas Edition 

Orestes, in Greek mythology, was the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, the rulers of Mycenae, or Argos. Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, killed Agamemnon after he returned from the Trojan War. Fearing that Orestes was also in danger, his sister Electra sent him from the royal palace.  

When Orestes was grown up, the god Apollo ordered him to avenge his father's death by killing Clytemnestra. Orestes returned home and killed his mother and Aegisthus. He then was driven insane by the Furies, the goddesses of vengeance. Orestes finally went to Athens. There, a jury found him innocent of manslaughter and freed him from his guilt and the Furies. Orestes later married Hermione, the daughter of Helen of Troy and Menelaus, the king of Sparta.  

("Orestes," World Book Online Americas Edition,, June 8, 2001.) 


The artist; commissioned by the MFA in 1921 and installed on ceiling side aisle, Huntington Avenue stairway, 1925.

  • See the year in review 1922
Stairway Ceiling Decorations 
Looking straight up

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Sketch for Orestes

Sketch for Orestes - Clytemestra

Sketch for Orestes - Clytemnestra

Sketch for Orestes - Heads and Arms of Furies

Sketch for Orestes and the Furies - Details

Sketch for Orestes and the Furies - Eight Small Studies


By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2005 all rights reserved
Created 6/8/2001