Gallery expert Jacqui Ansell explores Pintoricchio’s Penelope and the Suitors to discuss what this depiction of weaving can tell us about Renaissance life.
During the Renaissance, weaving was a domestic pursuit most frequently undertaken by women and was closely associated with concepts of marital responsibilities.
The painting portrays the story of Penelope, wife of Odysseus, the hero of Homer's 'Odyssey'. During his long absence after the Trojan War she is besieged by suitors but refuses to consider their advances until she has finished weaving her father-in-law's shroud. However, she unpicks by night what she weaves by day.
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