Dante's Matilda (Matelda) is usually identified with Matilda, Countess of Tuscany (1046-1115) of the house of Canossa. Leslie depicted her gathering flowers in a beautiful landscape, watched in the distance by Dante, Virgil and Statius. When it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1860 it was accompanied by a quotation from Psalms; 'For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work; I will triumph in the works of thy hands' (Psalm XCII, 4) The review by Tom Taylor in Times described it as 'a lady reclining in a green garden on the edge of a pool starred with water lilies' and celebrated the 'power of faithful landscape painting and a thoughtful and graceful feeling for female form and character, which promise well for this young painter's future.' It was bought from the artist by John Hamilton Trist (1811-1891) a wine-merchant from Brighton who owned a fine collection of modern paintings, including examples by Albert Moore, Rossetti, Alma-Tadema and Leighton with a particular taste for the work of Arthur Hughes (he owned twenty examples).
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