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John Michael Rysbrack, 1694–1770

Illustration to the Iliad

between 1760 and 1769
Materials & Techniques:
Watercolor and gouache with pen and brown ink on medium, slightly textured, cream laid paper
Sheet: 9 1/4 × 15 1/8 inches (23.5 × 38.4 cm)

Inscribed in pen and brown ink on mount, lower left: "Michl Rysbrack invt.;" in brown ink on mount, lower right: "12/-;" verso: "The Iliade of Homer. Book the V./ Diomedes, fought Pandarus and killed him; Aeneas, going to/ Revenge his Death[,] Diomedes throws a large stone at him and broke/ both his Thighs, and the nerve of his heel, when Venus seeing him/ in such danger took him away in a cloud;" versp, lower right: " No. 1"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
battles | literary theme | religious and mythological subject | the Trojan war (94C - 94H)
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IIIF Manifest:

For several decades from his arrival in London in 1720, the Antwerp-born and -trained Rysback was the foremost sculptor working in England. He was also a prolific and accomplished draftsman, producing highly finished drawings of his sculptural works as well; and, as his health declined in the 1760s and he could no longer work as a sculptor, drawing became increasingly his chief artistic outlet. The collector and connoisseur Charles Rogers, who reproduced one of Rysbrack's drawings in his Prints in Imitation of Drawings of 1788, wrote of Rysback: "From time to time he would amuse himself with making high-finished Drawings in an admirable taste; these are generally of his own invention, designed with a smart pen, washed with bister, and heightened with white. This amusement he continued until the lasts days of his life."
Rysbrack's independent drawings were generally of classical or biblical subjects. This drawing of a scene from Book V of Homer's Iliad, described in the inscription on the back of the mount, may well have been the drawing titled "The Contests between Aeneas and Diomedes" exhibited by Rysbrack at the Society of Artists in 1765.
Scott Wilcox

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 41 cat. no. 30

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 41, no. 30, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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