Thomas Carwitham

Fantasy of Flight


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Thomas Carwitham active 1713–1733
Ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 370 × 238 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

Display caption

Carwitham is known primarily for sketches illustrating scenes from Classical mythology, mainly from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'. At one point he is thought to have been a pupil of the decorative painter Sir James Thornhill (see no.3), later specialising in painting illusionistic architecture and sculpture. This unusual sketch is unlikely to be for a decorative scheme that was ever executed. It was probably done as an independent artistic exercise to test his skills in depicting falling figures seen from below. The loose, sketchy technique is very similar to Thornhill's, who was much criticised by his contemporaries for his lack of proficiency in drawing the human figure.

Gallery label, September 2004

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