Peter de Francia

Prometheus Offering a Torch

1983

Medium
Graphite and ink on paper
Dimensions
Support: 559 x 736 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1986
Reference
T04143

Display caption

Peter de Francia has made two series of drawings based on classical subjects. One series focuses on the Minotaur while the other, from which this drawing is taken, looks at the role of Prometheus. In this drawing Prometheus brings to earth the fire that he has stolen from the gods. He erupts into a calm, pastoral scene, bringing progress to people who are either indifferent or too shocked to know what to do with his volatile gift. De Francia was interested in the ambiguity of Prometheus' position: he can be viewed as either a great liberator or as an irresponsible thief.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Peter de Francia born 1921

T04143 Prometheus Offering a Torch 1983

Charcoal on paper 559 x 736 (22 x 29)
Inscribed ‘de Francia 83' b.l.
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Lit: Timothy Hyman, ‘The Drawings of Peter de Francia' in Peter de Francia, Painter and Professor, an Anthology, exh. cat. Camden Arts Centre 1987, p.15

De Francia has made two series of drawings of classical subjects, one of the Minotaur (from 1979) and one of Prometheus (from 1982). His source for both stories was principally Robert Graves' ‘Greek Myths' (1955), and his treatment was partly inspired by Daumier's lithographs of classical gods.

In this drawing Prometheus brings the fire that he has stolen from the gods to earth where people are either indifferent or too shocked to know what to do. Prometheus is often taken as a personification of science, finding useful but dangerous forces, and de Francia was interested in the ambiguity of Prometheus' position, as either a great liberator of the people on earth, or a bandit who stole something that he should not possess.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, p.137