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Patroclus - Death Reaction by Achilles

Patroclus - Death Reaction by Achilles Legends and Legendary People Social Studies Visual Arts Ancient Places and/or Civilizations

The story of the Trojan War, and its various characters, comes to us principally from Homer's Iliad. We also know about the story from surviving Greek art which reflects action scenes painted on Greek vases and other artifacts.

During the battle for Troy, a Trojan prince has killed Patroclus, a person who is very close to Achilles.

Achilles is extremely upset that Hector (Hektor) has killed Patroclus and grieves over the body of his dead friend and cousin. 

Gavin Hamilton has interpreted that event, from the Iliad, in this painting (which he created between 1760 and 1763).  The National Gallery of Scotland, where the painting is displayed, provides background about it:

Achilles refuses the comfort of his Greek comrades as he grieves over the dead body of his devoted attendant and friend, Patroclus, who was killed by the Trojans. The enormous size of Hamilton's painting conveys a sense of his ambition to depict episodes from Homer's 'Iliad' in an overpowering, epic mode.

His heroic compositions were designed to convey the dramatic and emotional range of the epic poem, based on Alexander Pope's translation. Hamilton painted six canvases, each commissioned by a different patron. This one, the finest in the series, was made for Sir James Grant between 1760 and 1763, and secured an international audience through Cunego's engravings. 

Gavin often drew inspiration from Homer as he created his very-large paintings. National Galleries Scotland tells us more about it:

Hamilton was born in Lanarkshire and educated at Glasgow University. He traveled to Rome in 1748 to study painting under Agostino Masucci. He returned to London in 1751 but decided to settle permanently in Italy in 1756 and was to remain there for the rest of his life.

Hamilton's huge neoclassical paintings, with their subject matter taken from Homer and their style influenced by both Poussin and the Antique, were of fundamental importance to the development of European art. He was also active as an archaeologist and dealer, and was a friend and guide to many visiting artists and patrons.

The National Gallery of Scotland also provides us with pictures and descriptions of other works by Gavin Hamilton.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 11, 2016

Updated Last Revision: Dec 11, 2016


Media Credits

Image and quoted information, from the National Galleries of Scotland.

 

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