“Consumed with love’s sorrow, Phaedra has locked herself in her palace. A delicate veil covers her head. This is the third day she has gone without food as she is intent on ending her wretched existence.”
Alexandre Cabanel depicts the heartbroken Pheadra, from the Greek play ‘Hippolytus’ by Euripides as a dramatically pale form with a death-like gaze. She contemplates her suicide, an act of vengance against her step-son Hippolytus, who rejected her incestuous love. The Greeks loved their tragedy with a dash of incest, and the French academic painters took full advantage of the luxurious settings and high drama.
Reed Enger, "Phaedra," in Obelisk Art History, Published November 25, 2015; last modified May 19, 2021, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/alexandre-cabanel/phaedra/.