17 - 18 December 1998
John William Godward (British, 1861-1922)
A Pompeian Lady
signed and dated 'J.W. Godward 1891' (upper left)
oil on canvas
30¼ x 18¼ in. (76.8 x 46.3 cm.)
Painted in 1891
Messrs Thomas McLean & Son, London, 1891.
Messrs Percy Polak Ltd, London, January 1964.
Mrs Rachel Cobden.
Richard Green, London.
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V. Swanson, John William Godward - The Eclipse of Classicism, Woodbridge, 1997, no. 1891/7, pp. 181-182 (illustrated in colour pl. 125).
London, Thomas McLean & Son, 27th Annual Exhibition, 1891, no. 28.
The details of Godward's life are shrouded in mystery. That he became an artist against family wishes is scarcely unusual for the 19th Century; however it was his reclusive nature - he declined invitations to become a member of the Royal Academy and, from 1905, ceased to exhibit at all in England - that has resulted in such a frustrating dearth of information concerning his life and works.
The present work dates from a period that saw Godward's reputation established amongst the late Victorian Classicists, and it shows his increasing inclination in the early 1890s away from multi-figure groupings towards more pared-down, single figure compositions, infused with a rich and studied mixture of technical élan and heady exoticism.
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