Object Image

Ulysses deriding Polyphemus - Homer's Odyssey

The subject of this painting is taken from Book IX of Homer's Odyssey. It shows Ulysses sailing from the island where Polyphemus, a one-eyed giant, had held him and his men captive. Wearing a helmet and a scarlet cloak, Ulysses raises his arms in victory as he stands on the deck of his ship, below a red banner, looking back at the island. He lifts the flaming torch with which he blinded Polyphemus, whose huge shadowy body lies sprawled across the clifftop that towers above. Luminous sea nymphs and flying fish gather at the ship's prow as a blazing sun rises through the morning mists.

The painting signals the increasing role of colour and light in Turner's historical landscapes. It also marks t...

Oil on canvas
132.5 x 203.0cm
Image and text © The National Gallery, London, 2023

Where you'll find this