BANKS, Thomas
(b. 1735, London, d. 1805, London)

Thetis Rising from the Sea

Marble, height 91,4 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Presumably in 1778 Banks began work on his marble relief of Thetis Rising from the Sea with her nymphs to comfort Achilles on the death of Patrocles. Achilles and his best friend Patrocles had gone to the Trojan War together. When the Trojans threatened the Greek ships, Achilles gave his friend his own armor. His friend managed to repulse the Trojans, but was then killed in a duel with Hector. In the 18th book of the Iliad Homer describes the scene where Achilles' mother Thetis rises from the sea with her nymphs to comfort her beloved son. The heroic fate of Achilles, who led the Greeks in the Trojan War and was himself killed by an arrow from Paris, was a subject that inspired Neoclassical artists time and again. Bank's version sticks closely to the story told buy Homer, but used a style influenced by Fuseli, who tended to emphasize linearity. However, whereas the group around the rising Thetis fits within the oval frame, the figures of Achilles and Patrocles form a stark contrast in their angular poses.