Youth and Time by John William Godward
Youth and Time by John William Godward Youth and Time by John William Godward Youth and Time by John William Godward Youth and Time by John William Godward Youth and Time by John William Godward Youth and Time by John William Godward
Youth and Time by John William Godward

Youth and Time by John William Godward

  • This masterfully rendered oil on canvas was painted by the great Victorian painter J.W. Godward
  • The piece is unusual for the artist in that it portrays a male and female model
  • Godward is renowned for his neoclassical compositions of Greco-Roman beauties at leisure
  • The artist is widely considered to be one the most important classical painters of the Victorian era
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Item No. 30-8422
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John William Godward
1861-1922 | British

Youth and Time

Signed and dated "J.W. Godward 1901"
Oil on canvas

This highly idealized oil on canvas was composed by the great John William Godward. The artist's career was devoted to portrayals of women within Neoclassical settings, usually dark-haired beauties draped in diaphanous fabrics. Yet, this work, entitled Youth and Time, is unique in that it is one of the very few compositions by the Victorian painter that features both a male and a female model. As is typical of his works, nearly every detail and texture has been painstakingly rendered in the idyllic composition. The cool smoothness of the marble and translucent gossamer of his subjects' robes reveal the high degree of technical skill that sets Godward apart from his contemporaries.

While many of Godward's elaborate settings are not based on real world locations, it is believed that the present composition is set on the stunning Italian Isle of Capri, with the volcanic island of Ischia glimpsed in the distance. Within this impeccably composed world, Godward's subjects appear perfectly at leisure, lounging on an intricately rendered tiger fur that beautifully complements their orange and purple robes. Godward imbues the scene with a touch of allegory - the sundial on right of the composition suggests the inevitable passage of time and loss of youth.

It is these subtle, yet alluring hints of narrative and his remarkable technical virtuosity that demonstrate Godward's genius as an artist. His career was devoted to the segment of Classicism known as the Marble School, and his Greco-Roman subjects possess a degree of technical mastery that remains unsurpassed.

Raised in Wimbledon, England, Godward debuted at London’s Royal Academy exhibition in 1887. By the subsequent decade, the burgeoning artist was on a steady ascent to artistic success. Having fallen under the influence of British Neoclassical Revivalists Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Lord Frederic Leighton, and Sir Edward John Poynter, Godward quickly adopted their style.

The sensuality and mystery of Godward’s female subjects, combined with his impressive Greco-Roman settings, attracted fans across Europe and sent Godward on a rapid ascent to artistic stardom. In 1889, he was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists. Ten years later Godward debuted at the Parisian Salon of 1899, where again he was heaped with praise. In the early years of the 20th century, however, Godward was faced with the painful reality that the classical world he so loved was being overshadowed by modern art movements. He moved to Rome in 1912 to surround himself with the physical remnants of the classical world, and there he stayed for most of his remaining career.

Dated 1901

Canvas: 25" high x 30" wide
Frame: 36 1/4" high x 43" wide

References:
John William Godward: The Eclipse of Classicism, 1996, by V. Swanson, p. 206, no. 19
specifications
Artist: Godward, John William
Framed:43"W x 36 1/4"H
Unframed:30"W x 25"H
Period: 1816-1918
Origin:England
Subject:Genre
Width:43 Inches
Height:36 1/4 Inches
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