Hermes by Elizabeth Frink

Our volunteer collections researcher, Deborah Keaveney, has discovered that the print Hermes by Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-1993), dated 1988, in Worcester’s collection is an etching from an original drawing used to illustrate the book, Children of the Gods, Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece by K. McLeish, published in 1983.

Elizabeth Frink, Hermes, 1988. Etching and Aquatint on paper
Elizabeth Frink, Hermes, 1988. Etching and Aquatint on paper

Frink’s graphic work, like her sculpture, was based on human and animal figures as archetypes in characteristic and monumental forms. Flight was also a reoccurring motif in her work. Prior to creating the illustrations for Children of the God, Frink had also illustrated Aesop’s Fables in 1968 and of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in 1972.

The print in Worcester City museums collection depicts the Greek mythical god Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods. He is drawn as a lithe naked young man at the peak of his physical strength, leaping over the rim of the Earth on winged sandals, flying between Heaven, Earth and Underworld. He holds a Greek shepherd’s lyre in his right hand, created by using gut strings from the cattle he stole from the Gods. Apollo then made him guardian of cattle in return for teaching him to play the lyre. He was known as a mischief maker, but gifted with the powers of music and language. Mortals knew him as Herm, guardian of the home.

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