Harry Bates


exhibited 1891

Not on display

Harry Bates 1850–1899
Marble, ivory and bronze on marble base
Object: 1060 × 540 × 785mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1891

Display caption

In Greek myth Pandora was the first mortal woman. The gods gave her gifts of beauty, the power of song and eloquence. Zeus gave her a box containing every human ill and sent her to Earth. When she opened this box, all the misfortunes that afflicted mankind flew out. Bates shows the moment of hesitation before Pandora opens the forbidden box. He suggests Pandora's mood of consideration and temptation while also recognising the inevitable fulfilment of the myth. This way he acknowledges the compulsion of character, and frailty of the human spirit. The ivory box is carved with figures relating to the creation of Pandora.

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry

N01750 PANDORA c. 1891
Inscr. ‘Harry Bates. Sc.’ on back of marble slab.
Marble, ivory and bronze, 37×20×29 (94×51×74), on marble base, 5×22×31 (13×56×79).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1891.
Exh: R.A., 1891 (2117).
Lit: E.T. Cook, A Popular Handbook to the Tate Gallery, 1898, p.275; E.J. Winter Johnson, ‘Mr Harry Bates, A.R.A.’ in The Artist, XX, 1897, p.586, repr. facing p.579.

According to Greek legend Pandora was the first woman on earth and released all human ills by opening the lid of a casket entrusted to her by the gods.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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