"Greek Mythology" Original Pen & Ink Drawing by John Flaxman, c. 1788
An original pen and ink drawing on laid paper by English artist John Flaxman (1755-1826) titled "Greek Mythology", c. 1788. The paper exhibits the "Bull" watermark of Bernardo Polleri, Palermo, Italy. Possibly classical studies for the Pope's "Iliad". Comes from a series, this being hand numbered #18. Good condition, exhibiting light staining and foxind and some small tears around the perimeter not affecting the image. Wear consistent with age, please see pictures. Sheet size: 13.5" x 19.25".
John Flaxman R.A. (6 July 1755 – 7 December 1826) was a British sculptor and draughtsman, and a leading figure in British and European Neoclassicism. Early in his career he worked as a modeller for Josiah Wedgwood's pottery. He spent several years in Rome, where he produced his first book illustrations. He was a prolific maker of funerary monuments.
In 1787, five years after their marriage, Flaxman and his wife set off for Rome, on a journey partly funded by Wedgwood. His activities in the city included supervising a group of modellers employed by Wedgwood, although he no longer made any work for the potter himself. His sketchbooks show that while there he studied not only Classical, but also Medieval and Renaissance art.
While in Rome he produced the first of the book illustrations for which he was to become famous, and which promoted his influence all over Europe, leading Goethe to describe him as "the idol of all dilettanti". His designs for the works of Homer (published in 1793) were commissioned by Georgiana Hare-Naylor; those for Dante (first published in London in 1807) by Thomas Hope; those for Aeschylus by Lady Spencer. All were engraved by Piroli. Flaxman created one hundred and eleven illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy which served as an inspiration for such artists as Goya and Ingres, and were used as an academic source for 19th-century art students.
He had originally intended to stay in Italy for little more than two years, but was detained by a commission for a marble group of the Fury of Athamas for Frederick Hervey, Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry, which proved troublesome. By the time of his return to England in the summer of 1794, after an absence of seven years, he had also executed Cephalus and Aurora, a group in marble based on a story in Ovid's Metamorphoses. This was bought by Thomas Hope, who arrived in Rome in 1791, and is often said to have commissioned it. Hope was later to make it the centrepiece of a "Flaxman room" at his London home. It is now in the collection of the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool.
UNFRAMED: HEIGHT: 13½ in | WIDTH: 19¼ in
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