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Currently shown
Nicolas André Monsiau

Ulysses, after Returning to His Palace and Slaying Penelope's Suitors, Orders the Women to Remove the Bodies

Artist

Nicolas André Monsiau
Paris 1754/55 – Paris 1837

Title

Ulysses, after Returning to His Palace and Slaying Penelope's Suitors, Orders the Women to Remove the Bodies

Date

1791

Materials

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

98 x 195 cm

Credits

Purchase, Edward Cleghorn Memorial Fund, inv. 2001.7

Collection

Western Art

At the Revolutionary Salon of 1791, Monsiau exhibited this painting depicting a passage from Homer’s The Odyssey (Book XXII). After an absence of nineteen years, Ulysses returns to his palace in Ithaca to find it overrun by a group of men suing for the hand of his wife, Penelope. Ulysses slays them all and then orders those of the palace women who have been disloyal to him to remove the bodies and clean the area. After performing this task, they too are put to death.


The painting’s Neoclassicism is expressed not only in its moralistic subject from an antique source, but also in the great care taken to accurately render the historically specific architectural setting, furnishings, clothing and colours, and the theatrical poses. To give the painting a surface reminiscent of ancient murals, the artist mixed sand into the undercoat.

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