About this artwork
In this scene, Gaetano Gandolfi illustrated the moment from Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey when the hero violently confronts the enchantress Circe, who has transformed his men into swine. In the left foreground, several of Circe’s hybrid victims seem to be in the process of transforming back into men, while behind Ulysses the god Mercury ascends through an arch.
The drawing is a tour de force of compositional invention and technical skill, alive with energy and balletic form. Gandolfi’s expert use of the uncolored paper to express dramatic lighting in particular gives the work a kind of radiance.
- Gaetano Gandolfi
- Ulysses Before Circe, Mercury Behind
- Made 1766
- Red chalk, with touches of wetted red chalk, on cream laid paper
- 499 x 359 mm
- Promised gift of Richard and Mary L. Gray
- Obj: 202292