The classical scene of an elegantly attired woman in profile, overlooking a vista while absentmindedly dreaming of a faraway fantasy, was one that delighted John William Godward. In Leisure Hours
, the artist has demonstrated his knowledge of Antiquity and has precisely rendered artifacts from ancient Greece and Rome. Behind the figure is a Greek marble relief of dancing warriors performing the Pyrrhic, a war dance, which is currently in the Vatican Museums (fig. 1). She sits on a stool modeled after the Savonarola chair, an Italian Renaissance chair based on those taken by Roman generals on military campaigns. The fan that is tossed aside is based on those held by the Greek figurines that were uncovered in the city of Tanagra in Boeotia in 1870.Leisure Hours
was exhibited in Paris in 1905 (though the exact location of the exhibition is unknown). By this year, Godward had begun to exhibit and garner attention on the continent and it is thought that this is the year he traveled to Italy for the first time, staying mostly in Capri (Swanson, p. 79-80). The sun soaked Mediterranean views that Capri afforded must have inspired the present work, as they would for the rest of the artist’s career.
Rather fittingly, given the warm climate, turquoise waters, and lush vegetation depicted, this painting belonged to a private collection in Bermuda for many years.