An image of Sketch for 'The battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths'

James Gleeson

(Australia 21 Nov 1915 – 20 Oct 2008)

Sketch for 'The battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths'

Not on display
Further information

According to Greek mythology, the Lapiths and the Centaurs were neighbouring tribes in Thessaly in Greece. The Lapiths were as civilised as the Centaurs were wild and unrestrained. The King of the Lapiths, Pirithous, invited the Centaurs to his wedding, but a battle broke out when the Centaurs, inflamed by wine, attempted to abduct the women at the feast, including the bride Hippodamia. Many Centaurs were killed in the ensuing fight, and the rest were drived out of Thessaly. This battle was depicted frequently in ancient art, including the sculptures along the outer sides (metopes) of the Parthenon.

Nineteen drawings from Pad 3 are devoted to this subject. Again, it is the power of the story and of the notion of a half man-half beast that most interested Gleeson.

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, 'James Gleeson: drawings for paintings', Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2003, pg. 64.

charcoal on cream paper
30.5 x 47.5 cm sheet
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, charcoal "Gleeson/ 20.12.78".

Gift of Frank O'Keefe 1994
Accession number
© Gleeson/O'Keefe Foundation