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Meleager and Atalanta
Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Lancashire, UK / The Bridgeman Art Library
Ascribed to John Hamilton Mortimer (1740-1779) after Wilson
Meleager and Atalanta
c. 1770
Pen and ink with wash on French blue-rag paper
330 x 248 mm
13 x 9 3/4 in.
Bolton Museum and Art Gallery
1947.74
NWD406
In a stormy landscape Meleager, on horseback, attacks the huge boar sent by the goddess Diana to devastate the countryside of Calydon. Three of his colleagues beset it with spears while a fourth lies wounded on the left. The dramatic lighting, rocky landscape, bending willow and turbulent cascade echo the violent subject-matter and complete the sublimity of the scene.
Tercentenary 2014 (109)
Acquired by Bolton Museum, 1947
Unsigned; no inscription
Pen with black and brown ink, brush-washed in brown, grey and blue, and heightened with white chalk
The subject is taken from the Roman poet, Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BC - AD 17/18) known as Ovid. The lovers Meleager and Atalanta killed a huge boar sent by the goddess Diana to devastate the countryside of Calydon. Meleager presented the hide to Atalanta but his uncles, the sons of Thestius, took it from her, whereupon he killed them, leading to his own death (Metamorphoses Book VIII, lines 260-546).
E23 Richard Earlom after Wilson, Meleager and Atalanta, 1771, and other impressions
E46 William Woollett & Benjamin Pouncy after Wilson, Meleager and Atalanta, 1779, and other impressions
E55 William Woollett & Benjamin Pouncy after Wilson, Meleager and Atalanta, 1794, and other impressions
P163 Meleager and Atalanta
The drawing has been attributed to Joseph Farington but seem more likely to be by Mortimer himself, made as a record of his alterations to part of P163 Meleager and Atalanta. Robin Simon has noted that Mortimer repainted some but not all of the figures in the picture. The horse in the painting, for example, is Wilson's, based on the Antique horse that, although unconnected to the rest of the group, could then be seen among the Niobe sculptures at the Villa Medici, Rome.
Simon 1981, fig. 30; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 289
Acquired by Bolton Museum in 1947 as The Boar Hunt by Leonardo da Vinci (!) and entered as such in Mere Hall register (Mere Hall was Bolton's first public art gallery). Reattributed first to the early Italian School, then (1976) to the French C18 School, and finally by Robin Simon to a pupil of Wilson - most likely to be John Hamilton Mortimer. (Information kindly supplied by Matthew Watson).
03/10/2019