William Roberts

Drawing for ‘The Return of Ulysses’


Not on display

William Roberts 1895–1980
Ink and chalk on paper
Support: 305 × 460 mm
Purchased 1972

Display caption

When at the Slade School of Art between 1910 and 1913 Roberts was particulary interested in the work of fellow-pupil David Bomberg, who also made a drawing of 'The Return of Ulysses'. This is one of two known studies, both in the Tate Gallery, made by Roberts for his painting of the same title. This drawing pays more attention to naturalistic details than the other two works. However, even here, the artist seems to structure the composition with a series of diagonal lines which begin to override the narrative content of the work. Note, for example, how the limbs of the figures are simplified into a series of unrealistic, robotic shapes.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

William Roberts 1895-1980

T01561 Drawing for ‘The Return of Ulysses’ 1913

Inscribed ‘William Roberts’ b.l.
Ink and chalk on paper, 11 15/16x 181/16 (30.4 x 45.9).
Purchased from Anthony d’Offay (Knapping Fund)1972.

This drawing is one of two known studies by Roberts, both in the Tate Gallery, for his painting ‘The Return of Ulysses’1913 (coll. Castle Museum, Nottingham). The other study (T00878), in chalk and watercolour, is the same size but less detailed than the drawing or painting. The draughtsmanship of the drawing is more naturalistic and less angular or stylised then the other two works; the top half is squared up. The subject ‘The Return of Ulysses’ was probably set by the Slade School since there exist drawings of this title and dated 1913 by two of Roberts’ fellow students, David Bomberg, (coll. Anthony d’Offay) and Clare Winston (coll. the artist).

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.

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