- Museum number
"Compositions from the Works Days and Theogony of Hesiod", frontispiece with seated muse flanked by two male figures (? Hesiod and Perses) with lyres, from an album of 37 drawings illustrating Hesiod's 'Works and Days' and 'Theogony'
Pen and grey ink, over graphite
- Production date
- 1815 (around)
Height: 364 millimetres (album)
Height: 223 millimetres (drawing)
Width: 554 millimetres (album)
Width: 303 millimetres (drawing)
- Curator's comments
- Flaxman display 2018 BM room 90a, exhibition text:
"John Flaxman (1755-1826) was one of the most famous English artists of the late eighteenth century, renowned for his neoclassical designs and sculptures. His international reputation stemmed from his designs illustrating texts by Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, and Dante. These were published as print series, beginning in 1793. Flaxman supplied drawings to professional engravers, and the resulting prints were sold by commercial publishers. The prints were republished and copied widely throughout Europe.
This display focuses on a newly-acquired album of Flaxman’s drawings illustrating passages from the Theogony and Works and Days by Hesiod (active between 750-650 BCE). The thirty-seven drawings in the album closely correspond to the published edition of 1817. But the precise function of these careful drawings—seven of which are excerpted here—is unclear. Were they intended for the use of the engraver or, more likely, as finished works in their own right? Related sketches from the collection reveal earlier stages in Flaxman’s compositional process. They show him trying out different variations, often working on more than one subject on the same sheet."
The Hesiod album was presented to the British Museum in 2016 by the art dealers Daniel Katz Ltd, through the Cultural Gifts Scheme in honour of Ian Jenkins, Senior Curator in the Department of Greece and Rome (and curator of the 2018 exhibition, ‘Rodin and the art of ancient Greece’ in Room 30). It is the first work in the Prints and Drawings Department to have come via the Cultural Gifts Scheme.
This fine binding with Greek-style palmette border is the work of Marseille Middleton Holloway and dates from the second half of the nineteenth century.
Holloway bought the album when it was sold at auction in 1862. Before he had them rebound in the present form, the drawings were described as being ‘mounted on lavender-coloured paper, in a scrap-book, bound in purple morocco’ (a kind of leather).
Since arriving at the British Museum, the drawings have been specially inlaid in Japanese paper so that they may safely be taken out of the album for display.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1972, Sept-Nov, RA & V & A, 'The Age of Neo-Classicism', no. 577
2018, 15 May-22 July, BM, G90a, Flaxman display
- Previous owner
Previous owner/ex-collection: John Flaxman (posthumous sale, Christie's, London, 1.vi.1824/ 84 'the drawings from Hesiod by Mr Flaxman, thirty-seven in number, handsomely bound in morocco, lettered &tc' unsold; reoffered Christie's, London, 11.iv.1862/ 448 'the original finished drawings to Hesiod, executed for the engravings by Blake, thirty-seven in number, including the frontispiece; they are mounted on lavender-coloured paper, in a scrap-book, bound in purple morocco' bt Holloway £231-0-0)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Holloway (& Son) (by whom bound and remounted)
Previous owner/ex-collection: H.D. Lyon (1972, and then by descent)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Maggs Bros (2010)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Daniel Katz Ltd. (acquired from Rich Fine Art in March 2010)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number