Mischief and Repose

Object Details


Mischief and Repose


John William Godward (English, 1861 - 1922)






Oil on canvas


60.6 x 133 cm (23 7/8 x 52 3/8 in.)

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A young woman reclines on a tiger skin on a marble ledge while her companion teases her with a dress pin. They are dressed in diaphanous robes fashioned after chitons worn by women in ancient Greece. Another dress pin and the reclining woman's hair ribbon lie scattered on the marble floor.

For over half a century after the continued excavations of Pompeii began in 1748, artists were fascinated with Greek and Roman life. John William Godward painted many scenes like this one of idealized beauties in calm, often sterile environments. In this painting, the figure of Repose is arranged seductively, with her breast and nipple showing through the thin material of her dress. But there is something distinctly untouchable about these women; they do not engage the viewer with an inviting gaze nor solicit personal contact. Like their antique setting, they possess a monumental, marmoreal quality, resembling Greek statues frozen in time.

1895 -

Léon H. Lefevre (London, England), purchased from the artist, 1895.

- 1924

Sir Henry Grayson (London, England; Holyhead, Gwynned, Wales) [sold, Christie's, London, February 29, 1924, lot 104, to Nathan Mitchell]

1924 -

Nathan Mitchell (London, England)


H. Aron [unsold, Christie's, London, May 15, 1925, lot 89]

- 1938

J. Woolf [sold, Christie's, London, July 15, 1938, lot 28, through Nathan Mitchell (London, England) to J. Paul Getty]

1938 - 1976

J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976 (Malibu, California; Sutton Place, Surrey, England), upon his death, held in trust by the estate.

1976 - 1979

Estate of J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976, distributed to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1979.

Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts. MDCCCXCV. The One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh (1895) (Cat. 472)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1895
Picturing the Ancient World (May 4 to August 30, 1993) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), May 4 to August 30, 1993
The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection (September 12, 2012 to July 7, 2013) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa, (Malibu), September 12, 2012 to January 7, 2013

The Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts. MDCCCXCV. The One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh, exh. cat. (London: WM. Clowes and Sons, 1895) p. 35, no. 472.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Catalogue of Ancient and Modern Pictures & Drawings [...]. February 29, 1924 p. 14, lot 104.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Catalogue of the Choice Collection of Ancient and Modern Pictures & Drawings [...]. May 15, 1925 p. 16, lot 89.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Catalogue of Modern Pictures and Water-Colour Drawings [...]. July 15, 1938 p. 7, lot 28.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 54, ill.

Swanson, Vern Grosvenor. John William Godward: The Eclipse of Classicism (Woodbridge, UK: Antique Collectors' Club, 1997) pp. 55-56, 191, no. 9, pl. 30.

"Godward, John William." Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays. Emmanuel Bénézit et al. Rev. ed. Vol. 6 (Paris: Gründ, 1999) p. 238.