Sir Hamo Thornycroft



Not on display

Sir Hamo Thornycroft 1850–1925
Object: 2407 × 1511 × 660 mm, 230 kg
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1882

Display caption

The champion Greek archer Teucer was one of the heroes of Homer's story of the Trojan War. When this bronze was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1882 a quotation from Pope's translation of Homer was printed in the catalogue, as the subject was unusual. Thornycroft admired the Elgin marbles, and his early works were in a Greek style. With 'Teucer', in emulation of the grandeur of Leighton's 'Athlete', he made a monumental ideal nude.
The critic Edmund Gosse wrote that it had 'something almost archaic about its serenity and rigidity...this is courageously realistic'.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

N01751 TEUCER 1881

Inscr. ‘Hamo Thornycroft 1881’ on top of base and ‘Teucer’ on front of base.
Bronze, 94 3/4×59 1/2×26 (240·5×151×66), including circular base, diameter 26 (66), height 6 1/2 (16·5).

Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1882.

Exh: R.A., 1882 (1665); Venice Biennale, 1905 (sala XII, 47); Works by the late Sir Hamo Thornycroft, R.A., and F. Derwent Wood, R.A., R.A., winter 1927 (128).
Lit: Edmund Gosse, ‘The New Sculpture II’ in Art Journal, 1894, p.201, repr. p.199.
Repr: Eric G. Underwood, A Short History of English Sculpture, 1933, pl.31.

The clay model for this work was begun early in November 1880 and the full-size plaster was exhibited at the R.A. in 1881 (1495); this is said to have been destroyed when the artist's studio in Melbury Road was vacated at his death. Other bronze casts are at Copenhagen and Chicago. The model was Orazio Cervi (the artist's diary, in the possession of his widow); a small head of Cervi, 13 in. high, belongs to his widow. A large bronze head for the statue (14 in. high) was lent by Lady Thornycroft to the R.A. memorial exhibition in 1927 (100) and was presented by her to the Athenaeum 1939. The memorial exhibition also included a ‘First Sketch for “Teucer”, statuette, bronze’ (98); this was presented by Lady Thornycroft to Sir Walter Lamb in 1926 (8 1/2×6 1/4×2 1/2 in.; inscribed ‘H.T. July 188[0 or 1 - the last figure illegible]’). It was probably modelled from life and shows almost the same pose as the finished work, though the actual bow is not shown. A larger statuette of the whole figure (14 3/4×10 1/2×5 1/2 in.; inscr. ‘Hamo Thornycroft 1881’ on the base) belongs to Lady Thornycroft. It is similar to the first sketch except that Teucer holds a bow. As with ‘Artemis’ and ‘The Mower’ there are many bronze statuettes after the original, usually 14 or 22 in. high, which were sent to provincial exhibitions.

The following quotation from Pope's translation of the Iliad, VIII, lines 359–64, appeared in the 1881 R.A. catalogue:

Since, rallying from our wall we forced the foe,
Still aimed at Hector have I bent my bow;
Eight forky arrows from this hand have fled,
And eight bold heroes by their points lie dead:
But sure some God denies me to destroy
This fury of the field, this dog of Troy.

Teucer, son of Telamon and Hesione and stepbrother of Ajax, was the best archer among the Greeks of Troy. He later founded Salamis in Cyprus.

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

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