This distinctive Godward oil brings together all the elements the artist is noted for, a thoughtful classical beauty, dress, flowers, marble and blue sea. The first idea for Tender Thoughts sprang from a simple drawing in the artist's circa 1913-14 sketchbook. There a very similar figure is posed from a live model. The artist then used the drawing to pose his model for an untraced oil study and then once more from the living model for the 1917 finished oil on canvas.
The Italian beauty is dressed in sea-green toga with a royal purple tunic. While the figure herself is rather static, the architectural design is dynamic. The artist has carefully modulated these elements in order to create a unified composition. The panoply of colourful poppies on the left stimulate the painting, enlivening the cheeks of the maiden. The next year Godward became sick with influenza and had to content himself with painting watercolours. The present composition was greatly simplified in a 1918 watercolour entitled Tender Thoughts: Looking Out to Sea.
We are grateful to Dr Vern Swanson, Director of the Springville Museum of Art, Utah, for his assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.