Circe and Ulysses 1919
oil on canvas
While Greek and Roman mythological themes appear in Bunny’s works from the 1890s, they became a dedicated subject from 1913 to the early 1920s.
This painting is inspired by the story of the sorceress Circe who offered a potion to Ulysses that would transform him into a beast, as she had done to his crew. In Greek poet Homer’s The Odyssey, the hero Odysseus (or Ulysses) is made immune to Circe’s potion by a plant given to him by the god Hermes.
Circe is overpowered and returns Odysseus’ crew back to human form. Bunny’s works in this series are often described as ‘mythological decorations’, and are noted for their bold colours, geometric patterning and flat mural-like presentation.