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Henry Fuseli, 1741–1825

Tekemessa and Eurysakes

Former Title(s):

Eros reviving Psyche [1812, Royal Academy of Arts, London, exhibition catalogue]

between 1800 and 1810
Oil on canvas
40 7/8 x 32 5/8 inches (103.8 x 82.9 cm)

Label on verso, upper left: “Painting in England, 1700-1850 | The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Richmond 20 | Artist: Henry Fuseli, R.A. | Title: ‘Eros Reviving Psyche (?)’ | Cat. No. 376 | Medium: Oil on Canvas Loan No.: | Insure for: Sales Price: | Lender: Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon | Address: Upperville, Virginia | Please fill in and attach securely to work before sending to museum”; upper left: “Pitt & Scott Ltd. | London | Item No. 6771 | A/N No. [handwritten] 221”

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
affection | black | child | death | grief | mourning | mythology | nude | religious and mythological subject | son | suicide | wife | woman
Associated People:
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Ajax was a Greek warrior of outstanding courage in Homer's Iliad. When Achilles was killed by Paris, Ajax and Odysseus fight the Trojans together to retrieve his body for burial. Each claimed Achilles’s magical armor for himself, but Odysseus was ultimately awarded the prize. Furious, Ajax became crazed and slaughtered a herd of livestock thinking they were his enemies, through a trick of the goddess Athena. Upon coming to his senses, he was overcome with shame and fell upon his own sword. Fuseli’s painting is based on the ancient Greek tragedy Ajax by Sophocles and focuses on the aftermath of the great warrior’s suicide. His concubine, Tekemessa, and young son, Eurysakes, are shown here mourning his death. Tekemessa had been taken captive by Ajax, who was enchanted by her beauty during the Trojan War. She pleaded with Ajax not to take his own life, fearing for their son’s life and safety. Ultimately Eurysakes survived and was taken to his father’s native island, Salamis, where he later became king.

Gallery label for Love, Life, Death, and Desire: An Installation of the Center's Collections (Yale Center for British Art, 2020-11-01 – 2021-02-28)

Love, Life, Death, and Desire: An Installation of the Center's Collections (Yale Center for British Art, 2020-10-01 - 2021-02-28) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Fuseli - Drama and Theatre (Kunstmuseum Basel, 2018-10-20 - 2019-02-10) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 96-97, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Exhibition Catalogue. 1812. 44th., Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, no. 44, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1812, p. 6, no. 89, N5054 A53 29-49 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850 : collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon : Exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, , 1,2, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, p. 197 (v.1), no. 376, pl. 86, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Gert Schiff, L'Opera Completa di Fussli, Rizzoli, Milan, 1977, pp. 102, 103, no. 218, fig. 213, NJ18 F98 A12 S34 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

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