Minerva watching over Ulysses' bathing

An historic acquisition to help reconstruct the Ulysses Gallery at the château de Fontainebleau

The Château de Fontainebleau is seeking to acquire a painted panel inspired by one of the frescoes in the Ulysses Gallery, decorated by Niccolo dell’Abate based on the drawings of Primaticcio between 1540 and 1571: Minerva attending to Ulysses’ grooming.

The gallery devoted a 150 m long series of paintings to the hero of the Odyssey, with whom the Valois sovereigns liked to identify. It was destroyed in 1738, but its memory lives on through engravings, drawings and painted copies, which were contemporaneous with its creation.

The painting depicts Ulysses being cared for by Minerva and his companions as he prepares to find Penelope. After the bath, he is draped in a large white scarf while Ulysses’ companions put on their festive robes to celebrate his return. In the colonnade in the background, a flute player strikes up a sweet monotonous chant. The painter, of Flemish origin, demonstrates a sensitivity to the graphic contours of the Primaticcian drapery, the small hemmed lips and the hairstyles with pearls.

Bring Ulysses back to Fontainebleau!

Minerva and Ulysses in pictures...

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