Meleager and Atalanta

Meleager and Atalanta
Meleager and Atalanta
Meleager and Atalanta
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Me.llon Collection
title=Credit line
William Woollett (1735-1785) and Benjamin Thomas Pouncy after Wilson
Meleager and Atalanta
Published 1 December 1779
Line engraving and etching
Metric: 445 x 549 mm
Imperial: 17 1/2 x 21 5/8 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
A wild landscape with a castle and aqueduct in the distance is shown against a stormy sky. In a clearing before a waterfall a group of men surround an enormous boar and Meleager, on horseback, drives a spear into it. His colleague, Anceus lies fallen and Atalanta, with two female attendants, aims an arrow at the beast from the far left.
Acquired 1977
Lettered below the image:
[1] Upper left: 'Painted by R Wilson'
[2] Upper right: ''Engraved by W. Woollett & B. Pouncy.'
[3] Centre: 'Engraved from an ORIGINAL PICTURE Painted by R Wilson.'
[4] Lower centre, publication line: 'LONDON, Printed for R.SAYER & J. BENNETT, No. 53 Fleet Street, as the Act directs, 1st. December, 1779.'
Verso inscriptions
[1] Accession number lower right
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).
Related Drawings
D167 Study of an antique Altar, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (Dyce.661)
Related Prints
E23 Richard Earlom, Meleager and Atalanta, 1771, The British Museum (2006,U.403) and other impressions
E55 William Woollett and Benjamin Pouncy after Wilson, Meleager and Atalanta, 1794, Royal Academy of Arts, London and other impressions
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Related Paintings
P163 Meleager and Atalanta, Tate, London
Related Works by Other Artists
NWD406 Ascribed to John Hamilton Mortimer after Wilson, Meleager and Atalanta
Critical commentary
The first recorded owner of P163 Meleager and Atalanta, Tate, London, was the print and map publisher, Robert Sayer, who commissioned Richard Earlom to produce a mezzotint after the painting, published in 1771 (E23). Sayer went on publish the present engraving by Woollett and Pouncy in 1779 and a further one by the same printmakers in 1794 (E55) - testaments to the enduring popularity of the subject. He paid John Hamilton Mortimer to replace some of the figures with his own, to the understandable annoyance of Wilson. Probably at the latter's insistence the distinction between the artists was recorded in the lettering of later states of this print.
Previous Cat/Ref Nos
Object ID: 40376
Booth Notes Doc. 4; Edwards 1808, p. 88; Fagan 1885, pp. 46-47, cat.103, variant of 5th State; WGC pp. 42, 166, under pl. 25b; Simon 1979; Simon 1981; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 289 (a later impression)
More Information
A later impression with different lettering distinguishing the roles of Wilson (landscape) and John Hamilton Mortimer (figures) is at the British Museum (1842,1112.36). This was exhibited at the Tercentenary Exhibition (108)
Trimmed to platemark. Good condition.