An image of Circe

Bertram Mackennal

(Australia, England, France 12 Jun 1863 – 10 Oct 1931)


19th c Australian art
Further information

This work is a statuette version of Bertram Mackennal's 'Circe', an important figure from Greek mythology and the favoured 'femme fatale' of nineteenth century Symbolist art. He has portrayed the enchantress at that compelling moment when, according to Homer's Odyssey, she transformed Ulysses' crew into swine.

The life-size version of Bertram Mackennal's controversial masterpiece was first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1893, where it was awarded an Honourable Mention and gained much praise and recognition for the artist. The sculpture was exhibited by Mackennal the following year at the Royal Academy, London, where the Hanging Committee, offended by the overt sexuality of the reliefs, placed the work on display with the base covered. The subsequent controversy and the notoriety achieved by this work made the artist famous.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

(circa 1902-circa 1904)
bronze statuette
57.5 x 22.0 x 27.0 cm
Signature & date

Signed right of base, incised "B. MACKENNAL". Not dated.

Purchased 1970
Accession number