We are delighted to have on loan this recently discovered lost masterpiece by Rex Whistler.
Ulysses’ Farewell was painted in 1932-3. Inspired by the work of Claude Lorrain it depicts the Greek hero Ulysses departing for the Trojan War, leaving behind his wife Penelope. Whistler has brought the scene vividly to life – the painting is packed with figures on land, sea and sky. Whistler includes himself as a naked madman, predicting the future with cards. The style seems to pre-empt some of his greatest work such as the mural at Plas Newydd on Anglesey.
The painting was a gift from Rex to the Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Bullock (1889 – 1966). Rex met Bullock through Philip Sassoon who was a mutual acquaintance. They quickly struck up a close friendship, even going off to Paris together in 1931. Bullock had been married and was widowed with a young daughter, but was homosexual and significantly older than the young artist. Their friendship did not last long, within a year Rex decided to distance himself from Bullock, producing this incredible painting as a parting gift. It is difficult to know the extent of their involvement with each other. Rex’s sexuality was uncertain, although he never married he later became infatuated with Penelope Dudley Ward and Lady Caroline Paget.
Clearly the painting was a prized possession as it remained with Sir Malcolm for the remainder of his life. Sir Malcolm’s daughter inherited the picture and sold it in auction to the current owners in 1975.
On loan from a Private Collection