Oil on metal, 24.8cm by 19cm.
The subject of the painting, by the gifted Swiss artist, Angelica Kauffman, is taken from Homer’s Odyssey.
Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus (Ulysses in Roman mythology), waits for twenty years for the return of her husband from the Trojan War.
His long absence is considered proof that he has perished and there are many pressing suitors for Penelope’s hand.
She employs various strategies to keep them at bay, certain that he will return and determined to remain faithful to him.
There is a version of the painting in the Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
Angelica Kauffman was an exceptionally talented artist from a very young age.
She painted landscapes, portraits and history paintings and was one of two female founder members of the Royal Academy in 1768.
She met Brownlow, 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793), soon after his arrival in Naples in 1764 on his first Grand Tour.
She painted his portrait, with Vesuvius in the background (PIC781) and he subsequently became one of her foremost patrons.