The Sons of Niobe Being Slain by Apollo and Diana

Jan de Bisschopabout 1660–1670

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

The sons of Niobe, queen of Thebes, flee from the arrows aimed down at them from a cloud by the Greek deities Apollo and Diana. Horses trample the bodies of the dead and dying, while two other sons throw up their hands imploringly on the left. In the story from Ovid's Metamorphoses,Apollo and Diana killed Niobe's seven sons and seven daughters to punish her for being too arrogant.

Jan de Bisschop conveyed the scene's drama through energetic motion and repetition. Using a characteristically Baroque, sweeping horizontal composition, he interwove human figures and horses into a tangled frieze that moves from left to right. An inscription on the back of the drawing shows that the artist based the scene on an antique relief. To create an almost sculptural, two-dimensional impression, de Bisschop used a strong mixture of black chalk and brown wash, creating highlights by letting the bare paper show through.


  • Title: The Sons of Niobe Being Slain by Apollo and Diana
  • Creator: Jan de Bisschop
  • Date Created: about 1660–1670
  • Location Created: Netherlands
  • Physical Dimensions: 24 × 40.8 cm (9 7/16 × 16 1/16 in.)
  • Type: Drawing
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Brown wash over black chalk
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 88.GA.54
  • Culture: Dutch
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Jan de Bisschop (Dutch, 1628 - 1671)
  • Classification: Drawings (Visual Works)

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