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Ulysses, wearing a turban, has his hand on Achilles' arm and looks him in the eye, whilst one of the ladies is pointing. Knowing that her son Achilles would be killed if he were to fight in the Trojan War, Thetis hid him away. She sent him to the court of Lycomedes where he was disguised as a girl amongst the King's daughters. Ulysses went in search of Achilles after an oracle stated that Troy could not be taken without him. Disguising himself as a merchant, he offered jewellery and arms for sale. Lycomede'’ daughters went for the jewellery, but Achilles betrayed his true sex by instinctively choosing the armour and trying out the weapons. The story is related in Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'.
Ulysses Discovering Achilles
oil on canvas
H 134.5 x W 178 cm
accepted in lieu of death duties on the estate of Edmund, 4th Earl of Morley; transferred from HM Treasury, 1957