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Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe

1901 – 1979

Hercules and the Boar by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe

Hercules and the Boar   c.1925/1931

  Original etching.
Signed, titled and numbered in ink.
Ref: Meyrick 14
S 369 x 247 mm; P & I 280 x 176 mm
Original etching by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe.

A particularly strong proof impression from the artist’s own private collection. Signed, titled and numbered '2' from the only edition of 50 proofs, published by the artist himself.

The small group of classical and Biblical subjects which Tunnicliffe produced in 1931 are amongst the most striking of all of his original etchings. Robert Meyrick suggests that this particular etching was made during Tunnicliffe's final year at the Royal College of Art in around 1925 and provides it with a title of Hercules Capturing the Erymanthean Boar; however, the plate was not published until 1931 when it was announced in Fine Prints of the Year 1931 with its correct title, as inscribed on this proof impression in the artist's own hand, Hercules and the Boar. Meyrick is incorrect in stating that this etching was reproduced in Fine Prints of the Year 1931 - it was not.

This etching was inspired by a classical story concerning Hercules, the demi-god renowned for his feats of great strength. As penance for killing his wife and children after being driven mad by the goddess Hera, Hercules consulted the oracle at Delphi to learn how he could atone for his actions. The oracle commanded Hercules to serve his cousin King Eurystheus of Tyrins for twelve years, performing whatever labours Eurystheus might set him. In return for his service, Hercules would be rewarded with immortality. During these years Hercules was ordered to perform twelve ‘labours’, the fourth of which was to capture the fearsome wild boar which lived on Mount Erymanthos and bring it back to Eurystheus alive. Following advice from Chiron, the wisest of the centaurs, Hercules drove the boar into thick snow, captured and bound it, and carried it back to Eurystheus. Tunnicliffe’s etching shows the successful Hercules carrying the bound beast back to the stronghold of Tyrins.

Provenance: the artist’s own private collection; thence by descent.

On laid paper, with full margins, as printed by the artist. Time toned verso. Mild mat toning in outer margins, sporadic isolated foxing, otherwise good original condition.