Automedon with the Horses of Achilles

Henri Regnault (French, 1843–1871)


315 x 329 cm (124 x 129 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

The Beal Gallery (Gallery 251)





Regnault won the French Academy’s Rome Prize in 1866. The award granted its recipient five years’ study abroad, requiring him to send back one painting each year demonstrating progress. The first was to be a modest, single-figure nude, displaying the student’s mastery of anatomy, but Regnault instead sent home this operatic canvas. Its subject was inspired by Homer’s Iliad and described by the artist thus: “… the horses, aware that their master [Achilles] is taking them into combat, and that this combat… will cost him his life, struggle and wrest with the groom [Automedon] …I wanted to give the picture a foretaste of disaster.”


Lower left: H. Regnault / Rome. / 1868


By 1872, acquired in France by Levi Parsons Morton (b. 1824 - d. 1920), New York [see note 1]; March 1, 1882, Morton sale, George A. Leavitt and Co., New York, lot 157, to Samuel A. Coale, St. Louis, MO [see note 2]; 1890, sold by Coale to the MFA for $1000. (Accession Date: June 17, 1890)

[1] The painting was executed in Rome in 1867/1868 and sent by the artist to Paris. Notes in the curatorial file indicate that Morton acquired it in France, where he served as U.S. Minister, though how and when is not known. It was first published as being in his possession by Henri Cazalès, "Henri Regnault: sa vie et son oeuvre" (Paris, 1872), p. 141. [2] In 1883, Coale exhibited the painting at William and Everett Gallery, Boston. It was on loan to the MFA from 1884 until 1890, during which time funds were raised for its purchase. See Walter Muir Whitehill, "Museum of Fine Arts Boston: A Centennial History" (Cambridge, MA, 1970), vol. 1, pp. 78–81.

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by contribution