The Musical Contest between Apollo and Marsyas

Cornelius van Poelenburgh1630

Hallwyl Museum

Hallwyl Museum
Stockholm, Sweden

The Musical Contest depicts the fatal challenge on Apollo made by the satyr Marsyas as described in Ovid´s Metamorphoses. Marsyas was, despite playing his flute very skilfully, outshined by Apollo who, furious at the very attempt to challenge the God of music, had Marsyas skinned alive. Although most artists focused on the gruesome outcome of the contest a fairly popular subject, in fact – van Poelengburgh decided to make his painting a bit more serene but with a menacing storm cloud building up on the background to remind the viewer of Marsya´s unhappy end.


  • Title: The Musical Contest between Apollo and Marsyas
  • Creator: Cornelis van Poelenburgh
  • Creator Lifespan: 1593 - 1667
  • Creator Nationality: Dutch
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Utrecht
  • Creator Birth Place: Utrecht
  • Date Created: 1630
  • Tags: Dutch, Utretcht school
  • Provenance: Collection Prince Serge Koudacheff, St. Petersburg, Art dealer Rudolph Lepke Berlin, Frederik Müller & Cie., Amsterdam, Bukowskis, Stockholm, Wilhelmina von Hallwyl, Stockholm 1905
  • Physical Dimensions: w770 x h560 mm (Without frame)
  • Painter: Cornelis van Poelenburgh
  • Artist info: Cornelis van Poelenburgh was a pupil of Abraham Bloemart. Between 1617-1623 the stayed in Italy, mostly in Rome, where his style evolved under the influence of Adam Elsheimer, Paul Bril and other Italian painters. He was also for some time in the service of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. From 1627 he worked in Utrecht and in 1637-41 in London at the Court of King Charles I. He painted Arcadian landscapes, mythological and biblical subjects and portraits. Cornelis van Poelenburgh was highly esteemed in his day, he was successful and had a large workshop.
  • Type: Oil on panel
  • External Link: Image DIG 4505

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps