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Leighton’s pristine vision of the antique world is set on a terrace overlooking the bay of Lindos, a view studied by the artist on his visit to the island of Rhodes in 1867 (see the oil sketch below). There is a contrast between the humble domesticity of the task and the heroic classicism of its presentation. In 1878 Henry James described the picture as ‘quite the most strictly beautiful – indeed, I think the only very beautiful – work in the Academy’.

Details

  • Title: Winding the skein
  • Creator: Lord Frederic Leighton
  • Date Created: circa 1878
  • Physical Dimensions: 100.3 x 161.3 cm stretcher; 136.5 x 197.5 x 10.0 cm frame
  • Provenance: F.H. Woodroffe, sold Christie's London, 24 March 1906, anonymous sale 'Property of a gentleman' lot no. 111 Pirie, purchased Christie's London, 24 March 1906, anonymous sale 'Property of a gentleman' lot no. 111 John Avery, dates unknown, after Pirie and before J.S. Maas & Co The Maas Gallery, London, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from J.S. Maas & Co 1974
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Purchased 1974
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Signature & Date: Not signed. Not dated.
  • Artist Country: England

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