Arthur Bowen Daviesca. 1915

Huntington Museum of Art

Huntington Museum of Art

The idyllic, dreamy worlds that appear in Arthur B. Davies’s paintings sprang from an imagination that had been steeped in the romantic traditions of art, literature, and music. His depictions of women in fantasy-laden, unspoiled, Arcadian landscapes are filled with ambiguous meaning and designed to lead the viewer to the realm of the ethereal and poetic. In this painting, Esmeralda, his subject lies nude on the hilly shore of a remote, unidentified land, striking a mermaid-like pose that is sensuous, yet not openly provocative. Like many of the women in Davies’s paintings, she seems to be caught in a moment of reverie, unaware that she is being observed. She serves as a symbol of purity, an undisturbed expression of the ideal in nature.

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  • Title: Esmeralda
  • Creator: Arthur Bowen Davies
  • Date: ca. 1915
  • Physical Dimensions: w22 x h17 in.
  • Credit Line: Gift of Ruth Woods Dayton
  • Type: painting
  • Medium: oil on canvas