John William Godward, R.B.A. (1861-1922)
The Tired Danseuse
signed and dated 'J.W. GODWARD. 09' (lower right)
oil on canvas, painted oval
21 x 21 ¼ in. (53.5 x 54 cm.)
with Messrs Eugène Cremetti, London, 24 May 1909.
Breen Kennedy; Christie’s, London, 25 February 1916, lot 96 (52 gns to Nathan Mitchell Galleries).
with Mitchell Galleries, London.
Captain Charles Hoskins Master, by the 1950s, and by descent to his wife
Beatrice Marie Master, née Wilson, and by descent to her niece
Ursula M. Overbury.
Letter from Cremetti to Godward, 24 May 1909, in the Milo-Turner Collection.
V. Swanson, John William Godward. The Eclipse of Classicism, Woodbridge, 1997, first edition, pp. 224-5, 250, no. 1909/19, as The Tired Danseuse, listed as ‘oil on canvas, location and dimensions unknown’.
V. Swanson, John William Godward 1861-1922: The Eclipse of Classicism, Woodbridge, 2018, second edition, p. 300, no. 1909.19, illustrated in colour.

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Lot Essay

John William Godward remained devoted to his favoured Greco-Roman subjects throughout his four-decade long career; following in the Victorian Neoclassical tradition of artists such as Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Frederic, Lord Leighton. In The Tired Danseuse, Godward has rendered, in exquisite detail, a young woman resting for a moment from her frenzied bacchic dancing. The artist’s focus on the depiction of sumptuous fabrics, and the model's exposed hair and skin, culminates in a typically sensuous composition.
With characteristic mastery of texture, Godward has set his dancer against a marble wall with a beautifully carved floral pilaster, seated upon a floor of minutely detailed mosaic tesserae. These cool materials are juxtaposed with the rich leopard skin and pistachio coloured cushion, where the classical Roman beauty reposes. Dressed in an ochre and teal stola with a deep crimson limbus draped around her waist, the model is viewed in profile. Her long dark hair is worn loose, set off with a bright red silk ribbon. The tambourine discarded at her feet features exquisitely rendered mother of pearl inlay, and the dancer gazes downwards in a moment of reverie.
Here Godward employs the tondo as a compositional device in order to bring the full attention on the sitter, fostering a sense of intimacy. The present lot is the ninth circular oil painted by Godward. There are twenty-five dated and five undated full size tondo oils within Godward’s œuvre. Vern Swanson comments that ‘While this number is not great when compared to his total output, feigned circular pictures best define the artist’s consummate compositional abilities’ (John William Godward 1861-1922: The Eclipse of Classicism, Woodbridge, 2018, p. 300).
The present work was acquired by the Belgian art dealer Eugene Cremetti (1851-1927) in May 1909. At this time, Cremetti was the primary London dealer handling Godward’s pictures.

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