Alex Anderson Surfaceman
Joseph Noel Paton’s painting was based on the lines of his fellow Scotsman Alexander Anderson, who wrote under the pseudonym ‘Surfaceman’. According to his journals, Paton worked on the picture from December 1878 until 13 January 1879 when he broke off due to illness. The work was completed in time for the exhibition at the Scottish Royal Academy in 1880.
In Greek mythology the Aeolian huntsman Endymion was said to have lived on Mount Latmos near Miletus in the Anatolian region of Caria. His beauty was seen by Selene, the Titan Goddess of the Moon, daughter of Hyperion and Theia and sister of the Sun-God Helios and Eos, the Goddess of the Dawn. She fell in love with Endymion and pleaded with his father Zeus to bestow eternal youth upon the boy so that the immortal Goddess could be with him forever, visiting him at night to admire his beauty as he slept. She bore fifty of his children.
The model for Endymion was Paton’s nineteen-year-old son Frederick (1861-1914). He later became Director General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics for India, but as an athletic youth with a fine physique, he often posed for his father. On one occasion Frederick was painted as Lucifer because his father felt the Devil should be beautiful if viewers of the picture were to believe that he could tempt those from the path of righteousness. In The Dream of Latmos Frederick was dressed in the leopard-skin of a hunter and carrying a spear. He is surrounded by honeysuckle on the hillside where Selene approaches as the sun falls below the mountains. She has her quiver and bow over her shoulder and clutches her heart as she looks upon Endymion’s tranquil face. She is lit by the luminous orb of a pale moon, which is reflected by the circular format of the painting.
In a drawing made by Paton twenty-six years earlier (sold in these rooms, 10 March 1995) the subject is more eroticised as the naked Endymion is approached by the nude figure of Selene carried in the arms of a cloaked figure symbolising darkness.
In 1881 George Frederick Watts painted the sleeping Endymion with Selene looming over him in the shape of the crescent moon. Two years later Walter Crane painted Endymion on mount Latmos (Dundee Art Gallery) and in 1902 Edward Poynter painted the first of several versions of the same subject (Manchester City Art Gallery).
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