Sirens by Horace Middleton R.B.A.
Sirens by Horace Middleton R.B.A. Sirens by Horace Middleton R.B.A. Sirens by Horace Middleton R.B.A. Sirens by Horace Middleton R.B.A. Sirens by Horace Middleton R.B.A.
Sirens by Horace Middleton R.B.A.

Sirens by Horace Middleton R.B.A.

  • This highly important and masterfully executed oil captures the famed Sirens from Homer’s Odyssey
  • The mythological creatures are known for luring travelers with their melodious voices
  • Monumental in size, the work was composed by the British painter Horace Middleton
  • It is undoubtedly the artist's masterpiece, painted at the height of his career
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Item No. 31-0017
$148,500
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Horace Middleton R.B.A.
fl. 1900-1920 | British

Sirens

Signed "Horace Middleton" (lower right)
Oil on canvas

British painter Horace Middleton composed this highly important and masterfully executed oil on canvas entitled Sirens. The monumental mythological painting, which captures the famed Sirens from Homer’s Odyssey, was painted at the height of the British master’s career, and it is undoubtedly his masterpiece. Middleton beautifully brings together vibrant colors with striking brushwork to compose a painting that balances the classical conceptions of beauty with a distinctly modern, urbane sophistication.

The Sirens are among the most popular mythological subjects in the whole of art history, known for luring travelers to destruction with their melodious voices. The most well-known Siren lore comes from Homer’s Odyssey, in which they tempt the famed Odysseus on his journey home to Ithaca after the fall of Troy. Odysseus could not resist his chance to hear the famed song of the Sirens, as so, on the advice of the goddess Circe, he ordered his men to plug their ears and to tie him to the mast of his ship. No matter how much he struggled to reach the Sirens, his men kept him bound, and so he became the first to successfully hear — and survive — the Sirens’ song.

The subject of the enthralling Sirens was a popular one in the realm of art history, having featured extensively in ancient Greek art and, more recently, being captured by the likes of Herbert James Draper, Léon Belly and Edward Armitage. The legendary Pre-Raphaelite John William Waterhouse (1849-1917) also chose to depict them in his famed composition Ulysses and the Sirens, which he exhibited at London’s Royal Academy in 1891 and is currently in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne).

Middleton would have undoubtedly been familiar with Waterhouse’s work, though Middleton’s is a more provocative retelling. He portrays them as nymph-like seductresses rather than the bird-like figures imagined by Waterhouse. Seated upon a seaside rock, Middleton’s mythological trio are depicted with their backs to the viewer, singing their song to entice two ships out at sea. Without question, this tour de force is the most important work ever composed by this artist.

A popular portrait and landscape painter, Horace Middleton was a member of the highly prestigious Royal Society of British Artists. The arts institution was established in 1823 as an alternative to the British Royal Academy. Over the years, the Society attracted a number of painters and sculptors of great importance, including James McNeill Whistler, Walter Sickert, Philip de László, LS Lowry, Henry Moore, Peter Greenham and Sir Roger de Grey. The great Claude Monet and Alfred Stevens were also honorary members. That Middleton was also a member of this exclusive society is a testament to the importance and exceptional quality of his works.

Circa 1910

Canvas: 72” high x 72” wide
Frame: 84 3/8” high x 84 3/4” wide
specifications
Framed:84.75"W x 84.375"H
Unframed:72"W x 72"H
Period: 1816-1918
Origin:England
Subject:Nudes
Depth:2.875 Inches
Width:84.75 Inches
Height:84.375 Inches
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