A Happy Awakening

by John William Godward


DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 12.5 x 26.5 in./ 32 x 67 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed and dated, 1903
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

In this beautiful scene, a redheaded goddess awakens from her slumber. Her soft, sleepy eyes gaze at the vibrant pink flowers above her head and she seems pensive and restful. Her plump limbs rest against the cool marble of the scene and the vivid yellow of her gown keeps the focus on her. In the distance a classical dwelling- perhaps this goddess’ temple- can be seen.

Catalogue No: 4255 Categories: , ,


Private Collection of the Colfox family;

Private Collection, United Kingdom

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Vern G. Swanson, John William Godward: The Eclipse of Classicism (Woodbridge: ACC Art Books, 1998)


Godward mined a single subject, a template of beautiful classical girls with marble, robes, flowers and sea, like this painting, that proved a rich seam for most of his career. Highly successful, Godward maintained his brand by making variations of colour, format and composition on his homogenous themes, despite modernist encroachments onto the London art scene, until the Great War finally extinguished demand.


In his decline at the age of 61 he committed suicide; it is said he left a note in which he wrote that ‘the world is not big enough for myself and a Picasso’. At his best, as here, his pictures were harmonious and lush, his marble beautifully rendered, the drapery artfully placed, and the composition theatrically arranged – oases of sweet nothing, but immediately recognisable from the walls of the Royal Academy and from popular engravings after them.


John William Godward regularly exhibited his paintings at the Royal Academy in London, where they were greatly admired by the public. His work is represented in art galleries around the world, from the Getty Museum in California to the Manchester City Art Gallery in England.

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