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Fresco - Ganymede feeding the eagle
  • Ganymede feeding the eagle
    Evans, Richard, born 1784 - died 1871
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Ganymede feeding the eagle

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Rome, Italy (painted)

  • Date:

    1820s (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Evans, Richard, born 1784 - died 1871 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sir Matthew White Ridley

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description


Place of Origin

Rome, Italy (painted)


1820s (painted)


Evans, Richard, born 1784 - died 1871 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques



Height: 61 cm estimate, Width: 49.5 cm estimate, Height: 85 cm frame, Width: 73 cm frame, Depth: 17 cm frame

Object history note

Given by Sir Matthew White Ridley, 1865

Descriptive line

Fresco, 'Ganymede Feeding the Eagle', Richard Evans, 1820s

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Parkinson, R., Victoria and Albert Museum, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, London: HMSO, 1990, pp. 88-89
The following is the full text of the entry:
"EVANS, Richard (1784-1871)

Born 1784; pupil of and assistant to Sir Thomas Lawrence, painting for him drapery, backgrounds and replicas. Exhibited 42 works, mostly portraits, at the RA between 1816 and 1845 (when he is supposed to have had a dispute when his pictures were refused) and six subject pictures at the BI 1831-56. Visited Paris in 1814, copying paintings in the Louvre, and lived for many years in Rome, where he copied old masters and attempted fresco painting. He painted copies of Raphael's arabesque decorations and panels in the Vatican Loggia for the V&A which were acquired in 1843. Died Southampton, November 1871.
LIT: Art Journal 1872, p75 (obit); The Times 30 May 1958

Ganymede Feeding the Eagle
159-1865 Neg GJ5988
Fresco, 61 x 49.5 cm (24 x 19½ ins)
Given by Sir Matthew White Ridley BI 1865

According to an old label (see below), painted in Rome, in the manner of an antique Roman fresco. The Art Journal gave a fuller account quoting an obituary of Evans in the Hampshire Telegraph published late in 1871:

During his residence in Rome he experimentally practised fresco-painting, and, on giving up his studio there, presented one of these paintings, which he did not care to take with him, to the attendant who swept out the studio. Many years afterwards, when on a visit to the Kensington Museum, he was astonished to find this identical fresco hanging up there, it having been presented by the executors of a wealthy connoisseur as a genuine piece of antique fresco-painting from a tomb in the neighbourhood of Rome. He examined his original sketch of the subject [presumably 36-1870 p89], made a special journey to London, convinced Mr Redgrave, the Director-General for Art, that the fresco was really his work, and not an antique, and the picture now hangs at the foot of one of the staircases in the Kensington Museum, with its real history attached to it.

The most famous modem depiction of the god Jupiter and his youthful companion and cup-bearer Ganymede is also a fresco, painted by Anton Mengs in 1758-9 in imitation of antique Herculanaeum wall-painting and intended to deceive his friend, the connoisseur Winckelmann. Evans, however, seems to base the pose of Ganymede on Michelangelo's famous marble sculpture of 'Bacchus' (Bargello, Florence). He depicts Jupiter in the traditional guise of an eagle.

The old label reads:

Ganymede feeding the Eagle. /Fresco, painted at Rome, by Richard Evans, in the manner of the antique Roman frescoes./Presented by Sir M W Ridley, Bart, MP, with relation to the durability of modem fresco painting./This work was purchased in 1836, by the late Sir MW Ridley, Bart, from Capranesi of Rome,/together with another fresco, now in the British Museum, which is a true work of antiquity./Capranesi stated that they were taken from a tomb in the Via-Appia./This fresco was however subsequently recognized by Mr R Evans, as his own work.
Sir Matthew Ridley (1807-77) gave two fresco paintings to the British Museum in 1865. Of the first, the head and torso of a man, the 1933 catalogue states: 'This fragment is said to have come from the "Baths of Titus" (ie the Golden House of Nero). It is much repainted and the style and accessories are not antique in feeling'. Of the other, a flute-player, the catalogue records:

This fragment is said to have been found in a columbarium on the Via Appia in 1823. The whole surface is so completely covered with modern paint that no trace of ancient work is visible; and in view of the exceptionally large scale, and the sentimental pose, it is very probable that the whole figure is a 19th century fabrication, and not merely a heavily restored original (A P Hinks Catalogue of the Greek Etruscan and Roman Paintings and Mosaics in the British Museum 1933, p62, nos 91 and 92, repr figs 69, 70).

It seems likely that the latter painting is also the work of Richard Evans, as there are similarities in style and mood to the present work.

LIT: Art Journal 1872, p75"


Watercolour; Plaster



Subjects depicted

Eagles (birds); Ganymede


Paintings; Myths & Legends; Gender and Sexuality

Collection code


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