(b. 1699, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, d. 1749, Rome)

Ulysses Discovering Achilles among the Daughters of Lycomedes

c. 1735
Oil on canvas, 98 x 134 cm
Private collection

The subject is taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Knowing her son was destined to die if he went to fight in the Trojan war, Thethis, a sea nymph, disguised Achilles as a woman and entrusted him to King Lycomedes, in whose palace on the isle of Scyros he lived among the king's daughters. Odysseus and other Greek chieftains were sent to fetch Achilles. They cunningly laid a heap of gifts before the girls - jewellery, clothes and other finery, but among them a sword, spear and shield. When a trumpet was sounded, Achilles instinctively snatched up the weapons and thus betrayed his identity.

Pierre Subleyras was one of the most important French portraitists and painters of religious compositions in the first half of the 18th century. He moved to Italy in 1728 and stayed in Rome for the remainder of his life. His sober and restrained classicism was a harbinger of later Roman painting and the artist filled innumerable commissions for history and religious paintings, as well as portraits and genre paintings.

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