Chryseis returned to her father Chryses
Oil on canvas
canvas: 74 x 56 in. ( 188 x 142.2 cm ) frame: 79 1/2 x 61 x 2 3/4 in. ( 201.9 x 154.9 x 7 cm )
The subject of the painting is from Book I of Homer's Illiad, depicting the reunion of the young Trojan woman, Chryseis, with her father, Chryses, following her capture by Agamemnon, commander-in-chief of the Achaean army, as a spoil of war. In securing his daughter's release, Chryses, a priest of Apollo, implored the god (represented by the statue at the upper left) to help him obtain her release. To that end, Apollo afflicted the Greeks with a plague and forced them to set her free. The painting is a companion piece to "Aeneas and Creusa," also in the Society's collection (Accession No. 1865.2). True to the academic standards of his day, West believed that noble historical subjects drawn from classical antiquity exemplified timeless virtues to be admired and emulated. Dubbed the "American Raphael," West settled permanently in England in 1763 intent on succeeding as a grand-manner history painter and his London studio became a Mecca for American artists studying abroad. A founding member of the Royal Academy in 1768, he became president in 1792 and enjoyed royal patronage as History Painter to George III.
Morgan, John Hill, Early American Painters, New York: New-York Historical Society, 1921, pp. 63-7. Kraemer, Ruth S., Drawings by Benjamin West and his son Raphael Lamar West, New York: The Pierpont Morgan Library, 1975, pp. 12-4. Koke, Richard J., American Landscape and Genre Paintings in the New York Historical Society, Vol. I, New York: The New-York Historical Society, 1982, pp. 259-63. Erffa, Helmut von, The Paintings of Benjamin West, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986, pp. 173, 246-7.
Gift of Mr. William Henry Webb
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.