Ulysses Winning the Archery Contest in the Presence of Penelope's Suitors

WAG 10843


The Greek hero Odysseus was known in Latin as Ulysses. This finished drawing is a preparatory study for 39th of the 60 frescos about the adventures of Ulysses which were painted at the Galerie d'Ulysse at Fontainebleau Palace in France. The Gallery was demolished in Louis XV's remodelling of 1738-39, so drawings remain the only visual record of this important decorative scheme. Their dates are disputed, with Sylvie Béguin proposing a hypothetical date of 1550-55 and Per Bjurström one between 1541 and 1547 for WAG 10843. The composition was engraved by Theodor van Thulden in 1633. The drawing fulfilled both a practical function, providing instructions to Primaticcio's assistants and an aesthetic role as an art object. Primaticcio's skill as a draughtsman and the drawing's beauty attracted many artists and connoisseurs. This work was owned both by the painter Joshua Reynolds (1723 - 1792) and by the Liverpool collector William Roscoe (1753 - 1831).