Tranquility

by John William Godward

P.O.A.

Dimensions: (unframed) 20.00 x 32.00 ins
50.80 x 81.28 cms
Signature: Lower right
Medium: Oil on canvas

Seated upon a marble bench, Godward has depicted a captivating Greek or Roman beauty, who softly stares out towards the distance, relaxing on a warm summer’s day. The sitter, known as ‘Dolcissmia’ has perfectly soft, rosy cheeks, plump lips and a glowing complexion. Her graceful pose adds to her sense of beauty and aesthetic perfection as does Godward’s sensual rendering of textures and harmonious colouring used throughout the canvas. From the coolness of the marble to the warm blush of the girl’s expectant lips, she is glamourous, youthful and sultry. The secluded nature of this marble seat evokes the probability of a secret rendezvous, where the maiden seated waited in tranquillity for her suitor.

Her classical robes create a sense of exotic sensuality by recalling the smouldering courtesans of the ancient world such as Helen of Troy, Phryne and Campaspe. Painted during Godward’s Italian period, the artist has added a greater proportion of landscape elements to his composition while decreasing the scale of the central figure, a trend that carried over to his later watercolours.

Notably, Dolcissima’s beauty and appeal is emphasised when contrasted against the cool, hard marble that she sits on. This work is representative of the work of the group of painters sometimes called the “Marble” School, with the classical setting calling back to Ancient Greece, depicting her as a Hellenic goddess. Inspired by the work of Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, John William Godward (1861-1922), amongst others, painted subjects which harked back to the Classical age. The Ancient worlds of Greece and Rome were viewed as a past idyll, an age of beauty and certainty.

This work was painted in Rome in the Villa Strohl-Fern, which was a group of artists’ studios to where Godward had absconded in 1911. It was here that the artist lived with the sitter who was his favourite model, however, this move scandalised his family as a result. The model is possibly the ‘Dolcissima’ that Russell Flint met when he visited Godward, as she is featured in many of Godward’s other works of that date.

Catalogue No: 4154 Categories: ,

Seated upon a marble bench, Godward has depicted a captivating Greek or Roman beauty, who softly stares out towards the distance, relaxing on a warm summer’s day. The sitter, known as ‘Dolcissmia’, has perfectly soft, rosy cheeks, plump lips and a glowing complexion. Her graceful pose adds to her sense of beauty and aesthetic perfection as does Godward’s sensual rendering of textures and harmonious colouring used throughout the canvas. From the coolness of the marble to the warm blush of the girl’s expectant lips, she is glamourous, youthful and sultry. The secluded nature of this marble seat evokes the probability of a secret rendezvous, where the seated maiden waits in tranquillity for her suitor.
Her classical robes create a sense of exotic sensuality by recalling the smouldering courtesans of the ancient world like Helen of Troy, Phryne and Campaspe. Painted during Godward’s Italian period, the artist has added a greater proportion of landscape elements to his composition while decreasing the scale of the central figure, a trend that carried over to his later watercolours.
Notably, Dolcissima’s beauty and appeal is emphasised when contrasted against the cool, hard marble that she sits on. This work is representative of the work of the group of painters sometimes called the “Marble” School, with the classical setting recalling Ancient Greece, which in turn shows the sitter as a Hellenic goddess. Inspired by the work of Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, John William Godward painted subjects which harked back to the Classical age. The Ancient worlds of Greece and Rome were viewed as a past idyll, an age of beauty and certainty.
This work was painted in Rome in the Villa Strohl-Fern, which was a group of artist studios which Godward had absconded to in 1911. It was here that the artist lived with the sitter, his favourite model which scandalised his family. The model is possibly the ‘Dolcissima’ that Russell Flint met when he visited Godward, as she is featured in many of Godward’s other works of that date.
The late Edwardian period was, like the classical world, lost forever shattered as it was by the events of the First World War. This Neoclassical approach with subjects drawn from ancient Greek and Roman life and placed in elaborate settings, with careful and realistic rendering of details like marble and flowers, is typical of Godward’s work.
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.

H.P. de Casseres, London
Richard Haworth, Blackburn (acquired from the above owner)
Mr Syka (acquired from the above)
Alexandra Gallery, Harrogate, England
Private Collection, Huddersfield, England (Acquired from the above)
Private Collection, USA,
Private Collection UK
Private Collection UK since 2001

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John William Godward was born in 1861 and lived in Wilton Grove, Wimbledon.

He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1887. When he moved to Italy with one of his models in 1912, his family broke off all contact with him and even cut his image from…

John William Godward was born in 1861 and lived in Wilton Grove, Wimbledon.

He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1887. When he moved to Italy with one of his models in 1912, his family broke off all contact with him and even cut his image from family pictures. Godward returned to England in 1919, died in 1922 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, west London.

He was a protege of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema but his style of painting fell out of favour with the arrival of painters like Picasso. He committed suicide at the age of 61 and is said to have written in his suicide note that “the world was not big enough” for him and a Picasso.

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