Sir James Thornhill

Sir James Thornhill
Eight Allegorical Scenes from Ovid. Verso: Sketch
Pen and brown ink and wash on laid paper; verso red chalk.
6 7/8 x 11 inches (175 x 280 mm)
The Joseph F. McCrindle Collection.

James Thornhill executed many composition studies similar to this sheet of eight allegorical scenes, which features eight ovals depicting Minerva and the muse Calliope. Such sketches may have been for painted decorations in houses and palaces throughout England. According to Thornhill's inscriptions, these compositions are representations of scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book V, where Calliope sings her prize-winning tale of Persephone to Minerva. Though the studies cannot be connected to any finished painting by the artist, they are typical of Thornhill when working out a decorative scheme, a process seen in his sketchbook dated to 1699, now in the British Museum (London, inv. no. 1884,0726.40.1-147; Laurence Binyon, Catalogue of Drawings by British Artists and Artists of Foreign Origin Working in Great Britain, London, 1898-1907, vol. 4, pp. 188-190, no. 68; Edward Croft-Murray, Decorative Painting in England 1537-1837, London, 1962, Volume I: Early Tudor to Sir James Thornhill, p. 69; Alan Fausel, email correspondence, September 2009). Thornhill also executed other drawings with subjects from the Metamorphoses, as preparatory studies for a series of upright decorative panels (British Museum, London, inv. nos. 1865,0610.1371-1380; Binyon 1898-1907, vol. 4, pp. 185-6, nos. 45-49). --Sean Leatherbury. Works cited: Binyon, Laurence, Catalogue of Drawings by British Artists and Artists of Foreign Origin Working in Great Britain (London, 1898-1907), Volume 4; Croft-Murray, Edward, Decorative Painting in England 1537-1837 (London, 1962), Volume I: Early Tudor to Sir James Thornhill.


Inscribed in pen and brown ink: "Calliope, Young, gold crown, Garlands of Laurel / in her left hand, 3 [...]
Watermark: Crowned circle with large coat of arms inside and "HONI Y SOIT MAL Y PENSE" around circle.

Sven H.A. Bruntjen, Woodside, California; from whom acquired by Joseph F. McCrindle, New York, 30 April 1984 (McCrindle collection no. A1124).
Associated names: 

McCrindle, Joseph F., former owner.

Artist page: