J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The 'Death of Lycus' [Lichas] 1805

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 15 Recto:
The ‘Death of Lycus’ [Lichas] 1805
Turner Bequest XCIV 15
Pen and ink and brown wash on white wove paper, prepared with a grey wash, 143 x 228 mm
Inscribed by Turner in ink ‘Death of Lycus’ bottom right
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘15’ bottom left, descending vertically
Stamped in black ‘XCIV 15’ bottom left, descending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Hercules hurls the servant Lichas over a cliff, as described in Book 9 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. For Ovid subjects in this sketchbook see note to folio 13 (D05865). This is the third and last of the three depicting episodes in the life of Hercules, following on from the fateful slaying of Nessus and the exchange of his poisoned cloak depicted on folio 14 (D05866). Afraid Hercules has been unfaithful to her, Deianera has sent Lichas to her husband with the cloak as a gift, unaware it is contaminated. As its poison grips him, Hercules gathers his remaining strength to turn on Lichas and hurl him into the Euboean Sea; as Lichas falls he turns into a rock.
Blank, save for some splashes of ink or wash

David Blayney Brown
December 2007

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘The ‘Death of Lycus’ [Lichas] 1805 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, December 2007, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-the-death-of-lycus-lichas-r1130090, accessed 19 April 2018.