British, 1859 - 1928
Zephyrus wooing Flora
Date: circa 1888
Reproduced in colour in 'Henrietta Rae (Mrs. Ernest Normand)' by Arthur Fish, Cassell and Company, 1905.
From pages 50-51:
"In connection with this picture there is an incident relative to the late G. F. Watts which illustrates his extraordinary knowledge of anatomy - a knowledge which enabled him to paint without models for the greater part of his working life. He visited Mrs. Normand's studio while "Zephyrus and Flora" was in course of progress, and at once discovered a flaw in the foreshortening of the figure of Zephyrus. To demonstrate his point he drew on the canvas, over the figure, the complete foreshortened skeleton to show "where you must make an alteration in the swing of the figure, to account for the design, and make it correct with nature."
This picture was hung on the line in the eighth room at the Academy, where it attracted considerable attention and gained from the critics a cordial reception. Even the Athenaeum, in a grandfatherly way, gave its benison: "'Zephyrus wooing Flora' is an interesting illustration of a lady's skill and taste in painting nudities and an amorous subject in a way reminding us of Bronzino's 'Venus and Cupid' in the National Gallery. The slender deity stoops over the willing goddess in her rose-bower. A dainty design, it is nicely as well as ably drawn. The carnations are bright, pure and varied; the faces are a little thin, and the forms are too slender, but do not lack grace, appropriateness, or elegance. Zephyrus's large and splendidly nacreous moth's wings are very pretty, and the landscape is pleasing and true. A little more fibre and solidity would have justified the lady's hopes of high distinction in her art."
This extract forms a characteristic example of the position taken up by some of the older art critics of the day in relation to women-artists. Acknowledgements of skill were grudgingly given, and was always tempered with that touch of superiority and condescension which irritates and annoys."
« Learn more about Henrietta Rae
« View Slideshow
No messages have been posted about this image. Post a new message (requires login).