The J. Paul Getty Museum


Object Details




John William Godward (British, 1861 - 1922)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



58.4 × 73.7 cm (23 × 29 in.)

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Object Description

Lost in her thoughts, a languid young woman lounges on a smooth, veined marble bench terminating in a herm figure, probably representing the type of the poet Homer with its heavy beard, thick hair, and narrow ribbon around the head. The cloth wrapped around her hips, over her silky chiton, or tunic, is not an authentic element of ancient costume, but it bears a repeated palmette border based on a common ancient design. The fluffy, spotted animal fur is almost tactile but has no specific connection to antiquity. John William Godward probably included it for the delight of juxtaposing such varied textures and colors. He painted the silk, fur, and marble with great accuracy, approaching photographic realism, and arranged them to enliven the subtly colored composition.

Godward specialized in portraying women alone in settings suggesting antiquity, usually decorative, dark-haired beauties in diaphanous gowns created with ingenious contrasts of colors and flesh tones.

- 1908

Thomas Wood (London, England) [sold, Wood sale, Christie's, London, April 11, 1908, lot 53, to Coureau.]
Source: Getty Research Institute, annotated 1908 Christie's sale catalog

1908 -
- 1937

R. C. Baker (London, England)


Estate of R. C. Baker [sold, Christie's, London, July 19, 1937, lot 144, to Vicars Brothers.]
Source: Getty Research Institute, annotated 1937 Christie's sale catalogue

1937 - 1938

Vicars Brothers (London, England), sold to J. Paul Getty, 1938.

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.

Picturing the Ancient World (May 4 to August 30, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), May 4 to August 30, 1993

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Catalogue of the Collection of Modern Pictures [...] of Thomas Wood, Esq. [...]. April 11, 1908, p. 10, lot 53.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Catalogue of Modern Pictures and Drawings [...]. July 19, 1937, p. 22, lot 144.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 55, ill.

Swanson, Vern Grosvenor. John William Godward: The Eclipse of Classicism (Woodbridge, UK: Antique Collectors' Club, 1997), pp. 77-78, 211-12, no. 6, pl. 55.

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