A Bronze by William Theed for the Metropolitan Museum


William Theed the Older (1764-1817)
Tethis with Arms for Achilles
Bronze - 128 x 143 x 120 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Tomasso Brothers

13/3/13 - Acquisition - New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art - At almost life size, a bronze by William Theed, the Elder, was acquired by the Metropolitan in 2012 from the Tomasso Brothers Fine Art gallery. It represents Thetis sitting on a shell carrying her son Achilles’ arms from Vulcan’s forge. She seems to be in despair while Triton pulls the shell through the waves with great effort.
William Theed entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1786 then left for Italy four years later. He began his career as a painter but changed his medium, no doubt influenced by his friendship in Rome with the sculptor John Flaxman for whom there are several known drawings after Homer’s Ilyad. Theed returned to London and produced models for Wedgwood between 1800 and 1804, then between 1804 and 1817 worked for the silversmiths Bridge and Rundell, with some examples residing at the Metropolitan as well.

The work acquired by the Met probably belonged to the philosopher, writer, decorator and collector, Thomas Hope (1769-1831), a great proponent of Neo-Classical culture and no doubt held pride of place in his private residence on Duchess Street in London or in his country home in Deepdene, Surrey.
Theed exhibited a wax model at the Royal Academy in 1805. This statue might be a symbolic allusion to contemporary events, when Napoleon’s fleet presented a serious threat to England.

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Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mercredi 20 mars 2013



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