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James Thornhill
18th Century Neoclassical Oil Painting of the Trojan War: Briseis & Achilles

circa 1710

$24,496.82

About

James Thornhill (1674-1735) Oil on canvas 12 x 14 inches; 16 ½ x 18 ½ in. Inc. frame The subject matter and inclusion of herms on both sides shows the influence of Louis Laguerre (1663-1721) and Louis Cheron (1655-1725), two French history painters who were both employed in England to make large mural and ceiling decorations around the end of the 17th Century. The English painter James Thornhill became well known for reusing their devices and mythological themes a few years later. Thornhill received two of the most prestigious commissions in London: the painted decorations of Greenwhich Hospital and the dome of St Paul's Cathedral. Besides these enormous ceilings, lots of sketches by Thornhill are held in public collections, such as the one in the Courtauld Institute that shows the same handling of figures and smooth brushwork as the painting on offer. Furthermore, episodes from the Trojan War were very fashionable at the time. The bearded man dressed in white is a priest and is leading a woman, Briseis, who has been taken prisoner and given as a war prize to the renowned warrior, Achilles. When the Greeks decided to release Briseis and Chrysies (the other woman held captive) to calm the Gods and allow their victory over the Trojans, all did not go to plan and Agamemnon claimed Briseis to replace Chryseis as his new mistress. This enraged Achilles who decided to stop fighting in protest. Such a loss amongst the Achaeans soldiers seriously threatened their position against the Trojans so Agamemnon recinded and gave Briseis back to Achilles. The moment depicted in this painting shows the very moment when Briseis meets Achilles again. A drawing preserved in Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria under the same name of James Thornhill confirms this attribution with a composition study where Briseis is surrounded by the Greeks in the centre and Achilles rushing towards her. It is likely that the painting on offer was originally intended for Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire which was decorated by Thornhill around 1710 with the 'Life of Achilles'. In fact one of the scenes depicted at Hanbury is the immediate predecessor in the story - 'Briseis taken by Agamemnon to Achilles'.

Details

  • Creator
    James Thornhill (1674 - 1735)
  • Creation Year
    circa 1710
  • Dimensions
    Height: 16.5 in. (41.91 cm)Width: 18.5 in. (46.99 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
  • Gallery Location
    London, GB
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU67338421632

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Free Shipping: Express Parcel Shipping
    to United States 0, arrives in 8-9 days.
    We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Estimated Customs Duties & Taxes to the Continental US: $0.
    Ships From: London, United Kingdom
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 1 day of delivery.

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