Calypso Calling Heaven and Earth to Witness Her Sincere Affection to Ulysses
In Book V of The Odyssey Homer tells the story of Ulysses' (Odysseus in the original Greek) 8-year sojourn on Calypso's isle. Though Calypso, a nymph, is beautiful and loving and his life one of ease, the hero longs for his home on Ithaca and Penelope, the wife who awaits him there (though Homer also admits Ulysses had grown bored). Athena appeals to Zeus on his behalf, and Calypso is ordered to release Ulysses, which she does reluctantly, after pleading her case one last time. Large mythological scenes like this were very popular among Neo-Classical artists like Angelica Kauffmann, one of the period's leading artists. Swiss-born, she was a child prodigy, speaking several languages and talented as both a musician and painter. By age 12, she was a well-known portraitist. A close friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds, she was one of the signatory founders and earliest members of the Royal Academy of Art. The poet Goethe called her "the most accomplished woman in Europe," and she was undoubtedly the most famous female painter of the 18th century.