{{ currentSlide }} / {{ totalSlides }}

Art in Eighteenth-Century Rome


Giuseppe Cades
Rome 1750–1799 Rome

Achilles Discovered by Odysseus among the Daughters of Lycomedes
early 1770s

black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown and grey wash, framing lines in black chalk on paper
18 3/8 x 25 1/2 inches
465 x 647 mm

signed in pen and brown ink, recto, lower right: ‘Giuseppe Cadese / Roma’; watermark: fleur-de-lys in a coat of arms



(Probably) Nicolas-Joseph Marcassus, Baron of Puymaurin (1718–1791)
thence by descent, until
Sotheby’s, Paris, Tableaux Dessins Sculptures 1300–1900, 3 December 2020, lot 95

This highly finished drawing was intended as a collectible object in its own right and was originally part of a suite of pen-and-ink drawings, some heightened with white, depicting scenes from Greek history and Homer’s Iliad. Represented here is the moment when Achilles—disguised as a girl by his mother, Thetis, in order to protect him from meeting his death in the Trojan War—is tricked by Ulysses into revealing his true identity. Having found a sword and shield packed among a trousseau of more feminine gifts, Achilles instinctively grasps the weapons, unmasking himself to Ulysses, while the true daughters of Lycomedes contemplate the jewels and trinkets.

Giuseppe Cades was born in Rome where he studied under Francesco Mancini and Domenico Corvi (see cat. 15 and 16). A precocious talent, Cades won a drawing prize at the Accademia di San Luca at the age of fifteen. He went on to study in Florence but returned to enjoy a brilliant career in Rome, working in a Neoclassical style for popes and patrician patrons such as the Chigi, and painting altarpieces in prominent churches such as the SS. Apostoli, recently remodeled by Carlo Fontana. He was influenced by forward-thinking artists in Rome such as Fuseli (see cat. 43 and 53) and Canova (see cat. 29).

This sheet is almost certainly one of a group acquired by Nicolas-Joseph Marcassus de Puymaurin, a wealthy fabric manufacturer from Toulouse. The Baron de Puymaurin was a distinguished amateur and a member of the Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in his native city, and he supported the career of the artist Jacques Gamelin, who lived in Rome between 1765 and 1774. Puymaurin’s inventory of 1792 describes a number of ‘Sujets tirés de l’histoire et de la fable, douze dessins de bistre, rehaussés de blanc sur papier gris’ by Cades as well as three large works by Gamelin. The collector also acquired, through Gamelin, paintings by Cades such as Achilles Playing the Lyre with Patroclus now in the Louvre (RF1980 191).

Our drawing can be grouped with the Suicide of Ajax, the Education of Achilles by the Centaur Chiron, Alexander and his Physician Philip (Wellcome Collection, 21245i), Achilles and Briseis and Athena Encourages a Wounded Warrior as part of the group acquired through Jacques Gamelin for the Baron de Puymaurin at some time in the early 1770s. The linear technique and elements such as the exaggerated hairstyles of Lycomedes’s daughters remind us of Cades’s contemporary Henry Fuseli who was in Rome in the 1770s.❖

More from the exhibition