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Ulysses Discovering Astyanax Hidden in Hector's TombEnlarge image

Ulysses Discovering Astyanax Hidden in Hector's Tomb, c. 1654-1656

Sébastien Bourdon
French, 1616 - 1671
oil on canvas
125.5 x 171.5 cm
Purchased 1994
National Gallery of Canada (no. 37219)

Troy has fallen; smoke still rises from the ruins as the fires die. The Greeks plan to kill the young Astynax, son of Hector and heir to Troy. To escape, the boy has been hidden in his father's tomb. Here we see the climatic moment when Ulysses discovers his hiding place. Astynax's mother, Andromache kneels before Ulysses, begging for her son, but he dismisses her. Rather than be put to death at the hands of the Greeks, Astynax will later take his own life. The gestures and expressions are easily read, and the composition simple. The colours are cold, and the paint seems almost bodiless, not tactile. Bourdon's simple and clear style is in deliberate opposition to the more boldly treated paintings of his contemporaries. Frame: carved wood, gilded. France (Paris), sceond half 17th century.

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