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Exhibit Catalog to the Morris County Historical Society's "Out of the Closet" Exhibition

Telemachus and Mentor Arriving at the Island of Calypso

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Richard Westall (artist)
E. Scriven (engraver)
Telemachus and Mentor Arriving at the Island of Calypso
Circa 1810
Engraving on paper
28 x 20 1/2 in.
 
Engraving was originally in Acorn Hall. At some point given to Mrs. Thomas Cooke, who gave it to the Morris County Historical Society in 1973.

The Story

 

In the books known jointly as the “Telemachy” in Homer’s The Odyssey, Telemachus, Odysseus’ son, and Mentor, Odysseus’ long-time friend, go on a journey to find out news about Odysseus’ whereabouts after he has been missing for twenty years. For seven of those years, he was imprisoned on the nymph Calypso’s island, until the gods intervened and forced her to let him go.

 

Source: The Odyssey , by Homer, 8th century B.C.E.

 

When Telemachus and Mentor shipwreck on her island, Calypso is still mourning the loss of her beloved Odysseus. She immediately recognizes the similarity between Odysseus and Telemachus, and knows that he is the son of the hero. She pretends not to know who he is, and tells him that no one is to enter her island. Telemachus tells her who his father is, and asks for her mercy. Calypso is so impressed by the youth, she offers him a warm greeting and shows him the natural beauty of her island. She reveals to him that his father Odysseus had in fact been to her island, and she laments his having left her broken-hearted. Telemachus regales her with stories of his adventures prior to his landing at her island.

 

Source: Telemachus, Son of Ulysses  by Francois de Fenelon, 1699

 

 

 

The Engraving

 

This engraving of Telemachus and Mentor arriving on Calypso’s island shows Telemachus trying to soothe the nymph by revealing who he is. She towers over him, with a menacing look upon her face, but we as viewers know that inside she is secretly gleeful that Odysseus’ son, who looks so much like his father, is at her feet.

 

 

The Painter: Richard Westall

 

Richard Westall  (1765 – 1836) was a painter of portraits and historical/mythological subjects. Westall was born into a family of painters, but his two artist half-brothers were less successful in their lifetimes than Richard was. Westall apprenticed under a heraldic silver engraver in London before studying at the Royal Academy of Art in 1785. He exhibited at the Academy regularly and was elected an Academician in 1794.