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Gouache, pen and ink and wash on paper
Inscribed verso in pen with dealer’s markings ‘Prometheus, 10 ¾ in x 8 ½ in, 1942’
PROVENANCE: Private Collection, Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, Austin Desmond, Berkshire, April 1987, Contemporary Books, Berkshire, Beaux Arts, London
EXHIBITED: London, New Grafton Gallery, April 1987
EXHIBITION HISTORY : The Redfern Gallery, Cork Street, 1967
Sheet size 27.0 cm (10 ¾ in) x 21.5 cm (8 ½ in)
Framed height 48 cm (19 in) x width 41 cm (16 ¼ in)
The Greek myth of Prometheus, the titan punished by Zeus for stealing fire and giving it to humans, was a popular subject with 18th and 19th century romantic painters such as Henry Fuseli and William Blake, as well as among writers such as Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein, or a Modern Prometheus in 1818. In the 1940s, Vaughan collaborated with John Minton, Michael Ayrton and older artists such as Graham Sutherland and this loose circle is sometimes referred to as the neo-Romantics. They share with the earlier Romantics the interest in Greek mythology and in particular fallen heroes such as Prometheus. Stylistically Prometheus, is typical of Vaughan's works on paper of this period where he uses black or sepia washes on white paper which results in a dramatic chiaroscuro. An earlier work by Vaughan, Voyage au Cythera, 1941 also refers to a Greek island between Peloponnese and Crete regarded in Greek mythology as the isle of the goddess of love and regeneration, Aphrodite.
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