George Owen Wynne Apperley (British, 1884-1961)

A Dancer of Ancient Egypt

George Owen Wynne Apperley (British, 1884-1961)
A Dancer of Ancient Egypt
signed in hierogliphics upper right
oil on canvas
75 x 108in. (190.5 x 274.3cm.)
J. C. Brasas Egido, Apperley: el pintor inglés de Granada,
Madrid, pp. 19 and 76.
London, Royal Academy, Summer Exhibition, 1916, no. 687

Lot Essay

A Dancer of Ancient Egypt draws its inspiration from the
idealized and mystical subject matter of Alma-Tadema, Leighton,
and Böcklin. Apperley had been fascinated by the ancient
civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome from childhood, enhanced
by a visit to Italy in 1904. The following year he exhibited at
The Royal Academy and later he had one-man shows in London
at the Baillie Gallery (1906), the Leicester Galleries (1908 and 1910), and Walker's Art Gallery. He then exhibited at the Royal Scottish
Academy, the Paris Salon of 1913, the Venice Bienales of 1912 and
1914 and at the Royal Institute of Watercolorists in London.

However, with his subsequent travels on the continent, it was
Spain that particularly captivated him. His first visit to Spain
was in 1914 and he remained there for almost four months. Upon
his return to England he found life there greatly changed by
World War I and the hostile environment forced him to return to
Spain in March of 1916. Later that summer, while still in Madrid,
his A Dancer of Ancient Egypt was exhibited the Royal
Academy. Inspired by Rider Haggard's novel Cleopatra, this
exotic painting caused a sensation. José Brasas writes, "Above
the sand of the desert and the dark blue background of the sky,
stands-out the figure of an elegant, nude dancer, illuminated by
the beautiful effect of the sky and accompanied by three other
Egyptian women, two of which are playing a harp and a zither.
Beside them, a mysterious black cat fixedly looks at the
spectator. The fineness of the model and the refined treatment
of the nude are all evident in the figure of the ballerina,
slightly raised and precariously balanced on the tips of her
toes, a complicated and sophisticated pose that is especially
suggestive" (J. C. Brasas Egido, Apperley, Madrid, p. 76).

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