LA FOSSE, Charles de
(b. 1636, Paris, d. 1716, Paris)

Clytie Transformed into a Sunflower

Oil on canvas, 131 x 159 cm
Grand Trianon, Versailles

By 1687, the marble Trianon was nearing completion on the grounds of Versailles, and the following year a series of paintings was planned for each room.Mythology in its graceful rather than heroic form stimulated La Fosse's lively overdoor paintings, including the exquisite Clytie Transformed into a Sunflower.

A Greek myth tells how Clytie, the daughter of a king of Babylon, was forsaken in love by the sun-god Apollo because he turned his attention to her sister Leucothea. Clytie's jealousy was the cause of her sister's death. She herself, still spurned by the god, slowly wasted away and turned into the flower that always turns its face toward the sun. The marigold, which has this property, is likely to have been the flower of the Greek myth.