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Penelope with the Suitors

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This picture, painted in fresco (directly onto wet plaster), was part of a series of eight which decorated the walls of the palace belonging to Pandolfo Petrucci, the ruler of Siena. He commissioned the frescoes to celebrate the marriage of his son to Pope Pius III’s niece. Two others survive in the National Gallery’s collection. This panel shows an episode taken from the Odyssey, an epic poem attributed to the Greek poet Homer. Penelope was married to the Greek hero Odysseus, who fought in the Trojan war, but during his 20-year absence she was pursued by other men – seen here queuing up for her attention. She vowed that she would only remarry once her weaving was complete. She ensured that it never was by unpicking her daily labour each night.

The National Gallery, London



Penelope with the Suitors


about 1509


Fresco, detached and mounted on canvas


H 125.5 x W 152 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1874

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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