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John Flaxman
1755–1826

Sketch for Apollo and Marpessa

Full screen

Medium
Pencil
Size
4 × 4 ¾ inches · 101 × 121 mm
Notes
Drawn 1790–1794
Collections
  • Edward Croft-Murray (1907-1980);
  • By descent to 2016.

This rapid sketch is an early design for Flaxman’s marble relief depicting Apollo chasing Marpessa which Flaxman presented to the Royal Academy as his diploma work in 1800.  The drawing depicts Apollo pursuing and attempting to seduce the beautiful mortal Marpessa. Flaxman’s confident, fluid lines recall the drawings he made as illustrations to the works of Homer and Dante. The drawing itself deviates from the finished relief, Flaxman has inserted the figure of a child conjoining Apollo and Marpessa’s hands, Apollo himself is shown in a slightly different pose; but the strength and movement of the composition is apparent. This small, energised study belonged to the distinguished scholar of British drawings, Edward Croft-Murray.