Sotheby's, 23 June 1981, lot 104;
Christie's, Rome, 4 December 1984, lot 51;
Annie Louisa Swynnerton (née Robinson) is best-known for her sensitive portrayals of children and young women and her symbolist mythologies and allegories much influenced by George Frederick Watts. As the daughter of a Manchester solicitor she enjoyed a certain amount of financial stability and was able to attend art school at Manchester, Paris and Rome. She began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1879 and also showed pictures at the New Gallery and the Grosvenor Gallery. In 1883 she married the Manx sculptor Joseph William Swynnerton in Rome. In 1922 she became an Associate of the Royal Academy, the first female artist to be honoured by the Academy since 1768. Her work was greatly admired by John Singer Sargent who bought The Oreads and presented it to the Tate Gallery which holds three other works by Swynnerton.
Swynnerton was probably aware of Millais' painting Joan of Arc of 1865 (offered in these rooms, 27 November 2003, lot 25) and possibly also Frank Dicksee's painting of the same subject exhibited in 1902 (present whereabouts unknown). Both these paintings share compositional similarities with the present work but the artist with whose work Swynnerton's is most akin is George Frederick Watts. Watts' ethereal vision and robust painting style is evident in the present picture and he is certainly known to have visited Swynnerton's studio and given her advise and criticism.
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