This painting of a kneeling female figure among sunflowers is almost certainly identical with the work that T.M. Rooke exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1884 as Clytie Turning Towards the Sun. Ovid in Metamorphoses tells the story of the nymph Clytie, who adored Apollo, the sun-god. When he abandoned her she withdrew to a lonely spot where she remained for nine days without eating or drinking but nourished only by her own tears. Each day, from dawn to sunset she watched the chariot of the sun, driven by her erstwhile lover. Gradually, her limbs were transformed into the stems of a plant and her widespread garments rooted her to the ground. Rooke shows Clytie in the process of transformation from woman to sunflower; the orange colour of her dress suggests still the warmth of Apollo’s love, but she appears already to be sinking towards the ground. Her hair is growing wild, while her face will turn into that of a flower, and one which will always follow the course of the sun.
In 1886-7 Evelyn de Morgan painted a Clytie subject, which also appeared at the Grosvenor Gallery (De Morgan Foundation, London). Ten years later, Frederic Leighton painted the subject, which work was shown at the Royal Academy in 1896, in the first summer exhibition after his death.
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