Lot 8
  • 8

John William Godward, R.B.A.

60,000 - 80,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • John William Godward, R.B.A.
  • Clymene
  • signed and inscribed To E P Scoones from his friend J. W. GODWARD and dated 1892 (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 9 3/4 by 6 3/4 in.
  • 24.8 by 17.2 cm


E. P. Scoones, Esq (a gift from the artist)
Kathleen Scoones (by descent from the above, her brother)
Private Collection (a gift from the above circa 1956)
Private Collection (by descent from the above)
Sale: Phillips, London, June 3, 1997, lot 76
Richard Green, London
Private collection, 1997


London, Richard Green, Vistas of the Nineteenth Century, November 1997, no. 9


Vern Grosvenor Swanson, John William Godward: The Eclipse of Classicism, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1997, p. 180, no. 1, illustrated

Catalogue Note

The name Clymene appears in a number of classical texts from Hesiod to Ovid to Virgil, sometimes referring to an Amazon or sea nymph, or the daughter of Oceanus and mother of Atlas and Prometheus. For Godward, she is a classical heroine whose beauty challenged that of Helen of Troy – for whom she was a servant in Homer’s Iliad.

The present work is painted with Godward’s controlled, confident technique and as a study for his Royal Academy submission of 1891, Clymené (1891, unlocated), one of his first oil paintings to be admired and remarked upon by the press. In the present work, the artist has not yet included some of the details of the finished painting such as the bas-relief of a Dionysian procession and the mosaic floor in order to focus on the radiant splendor of the female figure, leaning against a high, marble veranda and holding a peacock fan (the first of Godward’s paintings to include one). Her direct gaze immediately engages the viewer while her languorous pose allows further appreciation of the scene. By placing the fan beside her head, Godward invites a tactile comparison between the feathers, her hair, soft skin, cold marble and draped gown – an early indicator of his technical mastery of rendering volume and texture.

The model for Clymene is possibly Lily Pettigrew, one of the famous "sisters Pettigrew" (Harriet, Lillian and Rose) who were known as the leading artist’s models at the time. During their careers, they posed for John Everett Millais, James McNeil Whistler, John Singer Sargent and Edward John Poynter, among other important artists, their features becoming synonymous with the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic. According to the eldest sister, Rose, Lily was the most beautiful of the three girls and wrote: “My sister Lily was lovely… She had [the] most beautiful curly red gold hair, violet eyes, a beautiful mouth, classic nose and beautifully shaped face, long neck, well set, and a most  exquisite figure; in fact, she was perfection” (as quoted in Swanson, p. 27).

The present work's date of 92 likely refers to the year it was given as a gift to E. P. Scoones.  This dedication is helpful in further understanding Godward's biography.  Scoones was a Westminster, London insurance clerk secretary and auditor — the same trade of Godward's father and brothers.  Given this, Scoones and Godward may have been childhood friends.