This painting dates from the Festival of Britain year of 1951, when Craxton was designing sets and costumes for Frederick Ashton's Covent Garden ballet Daphnis and Chlöe, to music by Ravel, and with Michael Somes and Margot Fonteyn dancing the lead roles.
As the son of Royal Academy of Music professor Harold Craxton, and the brother of oboist Janet Craxton, the artist enjoyed a musical upbringing and has had a life-long interest in dance. This image was also inspired by an archaic marble carving of a dying soldier admired in Athens during prolonged trips to Greece from 1946 which would eventually lead to his living for part of every year in Crete.
We are grateful to Ian Collins, currently working on a John Craxton monograph, for his help in compiling this catalogue entry. Anyone with information for the book can contact the author c/o Christie's, 8 King Street, London, SW1Y 6QT.