Sketch for Amaryllis, 1903

by John William Godward


Out Of Stock

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 7.00 x 9.00 in./ 17.80  x 22.90 cm
SIGNATURE: Monogrammed and dated 1903
MEDIUM: Oil on board

Catalogue No: 4651 Categories: ,

The painting was described by ‘Pears Annual’ 1906:

‘This is a Greek classical subject. A fair-haired maiden, daintily robed in diaphanous warm-hued draperies, and holding in her left hand a capacious fan of peacocks’ feathers, reclines on a deep marble seat, over which tiger skin has been carelessly thrown. The face is full of radiance, the expression being one of sweet content and happy thoughts. A cluster of waving poppies nestles close to the seat, and in the middle distance beyond. Beauty, grace, and splendour, nature, and art, mingle in an atmosphere of poetry, the whole constituting an exquisite example of classical treatment.’

Sketch for Amaryllis is a wonderful illustration of Godward’s ability to depict beautiful women at rest in a classical setting. Here, a young lady reposes upon a marble bench, resting on a cloth made from exotic tiger skin whilst holding her peacock feather fan in languish. Everything about her classical dress and setting within an ancient world exudes an elegant opulence of a treasured past.


Private Collection, United Kingdom;

Private Collection, United Kingdom


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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