Artist Unknown

Classical Figures

  • Sir Joseph Kinsey bequest
  • pencil, ink and wash
  • 238 x 173mm
  • 69/276
  • 1550-1570

This lively ink sketch presents two loosely robed, classical heroic figures: one wears a plumed helmet, the other a lion skin like the Greek god and hero Heracles (Hercules). Different possibilities for interpretation exist. Perhaps we are looking at a conversation between mythological characters like King Thespios and Heracles, for example; or between historical rulers such as Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander, or Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus. Although sketched in a distinctive style, we don’t yet know who the artist was. It is likely, however, to have been made in Lombardy, Italy between 1550 and 1570. The drawing’s theme relates to the growing interest in antiquity in the 1500s, arising from the study of ancient writings and the discovery of ancient statues through archaeology.

(As Time Unfolds, 5 December 2020 – 7 March 2021)