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    Sale 7448

    Old Master and British Pictures

    7 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 241

    Angelica Kauffmann, R.A. (Graubünden 1741-1807 Rome)

    Calypso calling heaven and earth to witness her sincere affection to Ulysses

    Price Realised  


    Angelica Kauffmann, R.A. (Graubünden 1741-1807 Rome)
    Calypso calling heaven and earth to witness her sincere affection to Ulysses
    signed 'Angelica Kauffman pinx.' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    66 x 48 in. (167.7 x 121.9 cm.)

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    The story of Calypso's seven year detainment of Ulysses on the island of Gozo, on his return from the Trojan war to his homeland Ithaca, is told in the fifth book of Homer's Odyssey. Athena appealed to Zeus on Ulysses behalf, and Zeus eventually ordered Calypso to release Ulysses, which she did, unwillingly.

    Kauffmann's work was informed by periods in Florence and Rome, as well as Naples, Bologna, Parma and Venice, between 1762 and 1766. She made connections with the British community in Rome, and was invited to England by the wife of Joseph Smith, the British diplomatic representative in Venice. When Kauffmann arrived in 1766, London was home to a thriving Neoclassical School, second only to that in Rome. She rapidly established a reputation as a leading high-society portrait painter and on the establishment of the Royal Academy in 1768, of which she was one of the two female founder-members, she turned increasingly to history painting.

    Dr. Bettina Baumgärtel dates this painting to 1774 and identifies it with the picture exhibited at the Royal Academy in that year, entitled 'Calypso calling heaven and earth to witness her sincere affection to Ulysses, though she assents to his departure' (no. 142).

    The print after this painting, which was worked on both by the artist and her brother-in-law, Giuseppe (Joseph) Zucchi, is dated variously to 1776 and 1781 in the literature. A print after the same subject, in which the figures of Calypso and Ulysses hold different poses, was engraved by R. Laurie in 1776 (see C.G. Boerner, op. cit., p. 52-3, no. 96).

    Professor Wendy Wassyng Roworth, however, dates this work to shortly before Kauffmann's return to Italy in 1781, with her husband Antonio Zucchi, commenting that the style is quite robust for Angelica's work of the mid-1770s (for example, see Paris and Helen, also exhibited at the 1774 R.A.). She adds that the composition engraved by R. Laurie, in which the figures are less animated and expressive, is likely to be the 1774 Academy picture. Wassyng Roworth cites a poem by the Italian Ippolito Pindemonte, published in 1784 in praise of Angelica Kauffman, which references this episode from Homers Odyssey as a metaphor for Kauffmans departure from London in 1781, and her return to Rome, just as the enchantress Calypso had released Ulysses from her spell so he could return home. A footnote in Pindemontes verses cites Kauffmans painting 'owned by the Duke of Gordon, which represents Calypso in the act of calling heaven and earth as witnesses to assure Ulysses she will no longer impede his departure despite her sorrow'.

    We are grateful to Dr. Bettina Baumgúrtel and Prof. Wendy Wassyng Roworth for their independent comments on this painting.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    (Possibly) Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon (1743-1827).
    Greenwood Sale, 19 April 1779, lot 68.
    with Colnaghi, London.
    with Fabrizio Appoloni, Rome, 1970s.


    (Possibly) Ippolito Pindemonte, 1784.
    (Possibly) C. Le Blanc, Manuel de l'Amateur d'Estampes, Contenant un Dictionnaire des Graveurs de toutes les Nations, Paris, 1854, III, no. 13.
    (Possibly) V. Manners and G.C. Williamson, Angelica Kauffmann, R.A., Her Life and Her Works, London, 1924, p. 223, print dated 1776.
    (Possibly) P. Walch, Angelica Kauffman, unpublished dissertation, Princeton, 1968, p. 233.
    (Possibly) P. Walch, 'Angelica Kauffman and her Contemporaries', Art Bulletin, 51, 1969, no. 21.
    C.G. Boerner, Angelika Kauffmann und Ihr Zeit Graphik und Zeichnungen von 1760-1810, 1979, no. 98, print dated 1781.
    B. Baumgärtel, unpublished dissertation, 1990, p. 125, note 183, no. 289 I (II).
    O. Sandner, Angelika Kauffmann und Rom, exhibition catalogue, Accademia Nazionale de San Luca, 1998, p. 224, under no. 31, print dated 1781.
    B. Baumgärtel, Angelika Kauffmann, exhibition catalogue, Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, November 1998-July 1999, p. 157, under no. 50, print dated 1776.
    To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisoné of the artist's work currently being prepared by Bettina Baumgärtel.


    (Possibly) London, Royal Academy, no. 142.