When Forget-me-nots was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1881 the Illustrated London News praised its delicate tinting as "charming to the eye -- rendered 'precious' by the scintillant granulation of the thick underpainting" (18 June 1881, p. 602). The picture also inspired a long notice from the London Times critic, who detailed Moore's mastery on the "secrets" of ancient Greek drapery, which made his art superior to that of his contemporaries:
"[The painting is] worked in the faintest and most delicate tones of yellow, white and blue, and gains all its beauty by the skillful management of painting of the drapery, and the perfect science with which the little flashes of colour are introduced into the composition. If any of our readers care to know what it is that constitutes the great charm of Mr. Albert Moore's work--and there is no doubt that the charm is considerable--they can discover it by comparing any of his pictures with the fragments of Grecian drapery to be seen in the sculpture-room at the British Museum. They will find that the same elements exist in both--service to clothe the limbs they cover; beauty, to reveal the main lines of the form beneath the robes; action, expressive of what the body is doing; flow and continuity of line, subordinated to the above necessities, but kept clearly in view throughout. And, perhaps, to these there should be added perfect lightness, so that, however numerous or involved the folds, they never seem to weigh the body down or impede its action." (30 May 1881, p. 6).
Forget-me-nots is one of several paintings that evolved from the figure drapery studies that Moore made for Topaz (fig. 1), exhibited at The Grosvenor Gallery in 1879. It is the most lavishly appointed of the group, featuring a painted and upholstered screen with carved pillar supports. The Moorish design of the latticed windows and elaborate ceiling are intended to suggest a seraglio. This is a unique example of deliberate Orientalism in Moore's art, which more characteristically aligns itself with classical Greek and Japanese sources. Moore was fond of Turkish and Persian fabrics, which he reportedly acquired from Arthur Lazenby Liberty, founder of Liberty & Co. The richly patterned cloth represented in Forget-me-nots was most likely an actual studio prop, as it appears in half a dozen other paintings executed by Moore during the period 1875-1888.
We are grateful to Robyn Asleson for her assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.
fig 1 A.J. Moore, Topaz, Private Collection