18
18
John William Godward, R.B.A.
OUTSIDE THE GATE OF POMPEII
Estimate
120,000180,000
JUMP TO LOT
18
John William Godward, R.B.A.
OUTSIDE THE GATE OF POMPEII
Estimate
120,000180,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

British & Irish Art

|
London

John William Godward, R.B.A.
1861-1922
OUTSIDE THE GATE OF POMPEII
signed and dated l.l.: J. W. Godward 1905
oil on canvas
71 by 91.5cm., 28 by 36in.
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Provenance

Thomas McLean, London, 14 April 1905;
Probably Christie's, 28-29 July 1960, lot 286 as Life in Pompeii, bought 'Bloom';
Probably Christie's, 27 April 1962, lot 121 as A Roman Afternoon, bought 'Wound'

Exhibited

Thomas McLean, London, 41st Annual Exhibition, April 1905, no.47.

Literature

McLean letter to Godward, dated 14 April 1905 (Milo-Turner collection);
Vern Swanson, John William Godward - The Eclipse of Classicism, 1997, p.216, cat. no.1905.15

Catalogue Note

This ambitious multifigured picture has more figures painted into it than any other Godward oil.  It is also the only known cityscape painted by the artist who usually confined himself to the solitary person, usually a beautiful Greco-Roman woman. Outside the Gate of Pompeii was probably Godward’s first canvas to be painted after his initial trip to Italy in late 1904 or early 1905. The artist’s family believed that he lived in Capri, not Rome. His sister Nin (Mary Frederica) noted on several occasions that he lived in or near Naples.  This would account for the abundance of material relating to Ischia, Capri near Sorrento and Pompeii.

Outside the Gate of Pompeii proclaims the profound effect that Pompeii had on the artist. It is almost a souvenir of his trip to this ancient city. He was undoubtedly overwhelmed by the streets, tombs, houses and temples of this time-capsule of a city.  Once Godward had finally settled into his work he resumed his standard painting methods and motifs with a greater maturity and sophistication. Godward returned to his 410 Fulham Road address in London, probably toward the end of 1905, but his Italian experience left an indelible mark upon his consciousness and lured him to move to Rome in 1911.

On the left of the painting is seen only the second elderly man in the artist’s oeuvre (the other being Eighty and Eighteen of 1898). He sits on a marble exedra seat watching pigeons. On the lower left sitting on the curb of the street is a beautiful flower seller in rosy-hued toga and crimson stola, adjusting her sandal. In the central foreground is a young mother in red dress and purple tunic holding a fan and the hand of her daughter. The child is dressed in greed and holds a large flowering oleander stem and seems to be engaged with the flower seller. 

The setting for Godward's painting was based upon surviving archaelogical remains at Pompeii. The road is that leading from the forum to the Villa dei Misteri on the outskirts of the city, which is lined with family tombs. At the top of this street was a triumphal arch similar to the one depicted by Godward and the half-moon-shaped exedra with lion-leg decoration still survives.

We are grateful to Vern Swanson for his assistance with the cataloguing of this lot which will be included in his forthcoming monograph.

British & Irish Art

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London