John William Godward
1861-1922 | British
Signed and dated "J.W. Godward / 1915"; inscribed "Myrhinna / J.W. Godward / Rome / 1915" en verso
Oil on canvas
John William Godward is considered among the top British Neoclassical artists of his time. His career was devoted to a segment of Classicism known as the Marble School, with Greco-Roman subjects placed within elaborate settings that often centered upon marble architectural elements. His elegantly adorned beauties are depicted with a degree of technical mastery that remains unsurpassed. The present painting, entitled Myrhinna, showcases the classical elements for which Godward is celebrated.
The artist brings to life the ancient legend of Myrhinna, an Amazon queen and warrior after which a town in Lemnos, Greece, was named. The empowered stare, vibrant palette, flowing fabrics, and beautifully grained marbles utilized in this work are all hallmarks of this remarkable artist. Godward's work is most celebrated for its implicit sensuality and masterful, naturalistic detail. This work is no exception, as his subject gazes languidly outwards at the viewer with marble and velvet intricately rendered in the background.
Raised in Wimbledon, England, Godward debuted at London’s Royal Academy exhibition in 1887. By the subsequent decade, the burgeoning artist was on a steady ascent to artistic success. Having fallen under the influence of British Neoclassical Revivalists Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Lord Frederic Leighton, and Sir Edward John Poynter, Godward quickly adopted their style.
The sensuality and mystery of Godward’s female subjects, combined with his impressive Greco-Roman settings, attracted fans across Europe and sent Godward on a rapid ascent to artistic stardom. In 1889, he was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists. Ten years later Godward debuted at the Parisian Salon of 1899, where again he was heaped with praise. In the early years of the 20th century, however, Godward was faced with the painful reality that the classical world he so loved was being overshadowed by modern art movements. He moved to Rome in 1912 to surround himself with the physical remnants of the classical world, and there he stayed for most of his remaining career.
Canvas: 16" high x 18" wide
Frame: 25" high x 27" wide
Messrs. M. Newman, Ltd., London, July 9, 1942;
Mrs. William R. Fasey, Serendocks, Kent and sold at Christie's London, June 24, 1949;
Christie's London, November 6, 1995;
Waterhouse & Dodd, London, 1995;
Wayne Gould, December 1995
John William Godward, The Eclipse of Classicism, Vern G. Swanson Ph.D, 1997, pages 239-240, illustrated