Zoom into 'Ulysses and the Rings' by Francesco Primaticcio

About this drawing

'Ulysses winning the archery contest in the presence of Penelope's suitors', Francesco Primaticcio (1504/5-1570)

Drawn about 1548

This presentation drawing was for a series of wall paintings made for King François I that no longer exist. The set included 58 pictures inspired by Ulysses, the central character in Homer's Odyssey.

It shows the hero Ulysses disguised as a beggar upon his return home after a 20 year absence due to the Trojan Wars and a difficult journey back. During this time his wife Penelope was besieged by suitors. Forced finally to choose between them, she decreed she would marry the suitor able to string her husband's rigid bow. This drawing shows the unsuspecting suitors as they watch the disguised Ulysses takes his turn.

Zooming in to the background of the painting gives a closer look at the figure of Penelope who is shown fleeing the scene by disappearing up the stairs, unable to watch while her fate is decided.

Accession number WAG 10843