In the Prime of the Summertime was painted in 1914, the year after Clelia (see lot 17), during Godward’s first few years in Rome. The work is also known as Reverie, as the title was shortened due to its publication as a print. Vern Swanson describes the scene as ‘a daintily-dressed maiden reclining on a cool marble seat, with a fan of peacock feathers raised above her head, indulging in sweet day-dreams in the quietude of a scene glowing white with light and colour’ (V.G. Swanson, J.W. Godward, 1861-1922: The Eclipse of Classicism, Suffolk, 2018, p. 313).
The picture relates to a 1914 oil entitled Tranquillity (private collection), where a similar dark haired beauty is depicted draped across a marble bench, against the same mountain vista. A preliminary drawing exists. Godward often sketched his models from life, and then reviewed his drawings, before selecting his favoured images and posing the model again. There is also an oil study by the artist of the mountains visible to the left entitled Punta Campanelle from Cariv, above Fazalioni (1914, location unknown) on the Sorrentine Peninsula.
Godward often reused favourite props and backgrounds, and here we can see the peacock fan that features in several of his works. Holding the fan behind her head, Godward offers a tactile comparison between the softness of the feathers and the model's hair, both finely rendered with minute brushstrokes. Touches of green from the peacock fan are picked up in ribbons of her beautifully draped, golden dress, and in the foliage of the trees. The figure is seated on a marble bench with a calm blue sea behind her. The height of the sitter's vantage point further removes her from the concerns of contemporary life, and the serene atmosphere is heightened by the clear light. The quietude effortlessly transports the viewer to another time and place.