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Lycidas was the title of John Milton’s poem about the drowning of a young shepherd. Thomas shows him watching nymphs bathing in a stream. He modelled this life-size nude from his servant Antonio during the time he lived in southern Italy. The sculpture was sent to the Royal Academy for exhibition in 1905, but was rejected for appearing too ordinary and life-like. Following a public scandal, it was shown instead at the New Gallery. Lycidas was subsequently cast in bronze and presented to the Tate by Sir Michael Sadler, a well-known collector of modern art.

February 2010