Ulysses takes leave of Aeolus

Workshop of Alexandre de Comans, Paris, faubourg Saint Marcel, Ulysses takes leave of Aeolus, 1635‑1650, from a series of the Labours of Ulysses, Wool and silk, 326 × 425 cm, Fondation Étrillard collection


Palazzo Vendramin Grimani, 2022

  • Subject: from the Odyssey, an epic by Homer (8th century BC.), which follows the Iliad, the story of the Trojan War, by the same author.
  • Model: Simon Vouet (1590-1649), painter to King Louis XIII, who returned to Paris from Rome in 1627.

The Odyssey tells the story of the adventures of Ulysses, king of the island of Ithaca and hero of the Trojan War, on his way home with the war over. He finally arrived at his home island after twenty years of wandering. This tapestry, the first of the series, illustrates a scene that appears in Canto X when, after a month’s rest on the island of Aeolia, Ulysses and his companions take leave of Aeolus. The master of the winds, depicted on the left as a bearded old man surrounded by three of his daughters, proffers a bag enclosing the ‘howling’ or contrary winds to Odysseus, depicted in the middle of the ship, stretching out a hand. The downwind, or “Zephyr”, is represented by two putti heads, emerging from a cloud on the left, and blowing to help Odysseus leave. On the right, two of Ulysses’ companions are starting to row away from Aeolus’ island. The border of this tapestry is formed by a blue ribbon wrapped around a garland of flowers, interrupted at the corners and in the middle of the sides by a cartouche with a blue background on which a small, lighter scene appears.