The Signal
(5000-1562)

The woman's brightly colored antique dress, not authentic but suggestive of , contrasts sharply with the smooth marble supporting her, whose open stonework was based on ancient models. While setting and costume allude to the ancient past, this painting's theme is timeless: waiting to hear from a loved one. The seascape in the , the young woman's gesture, and her diaphanous gown, slightly rippling like a flag, all suggest an awaited signal from her beloved. Though rendering the scene so prettily as to nullify any true anxiety, John William Godward did tap into a universal feeling, the isolation experienced in the midst of uncertainty. He specialized in portraying women alone in settings from antiquity, often in portraits, usually decorative, dark-haired beauties in see-through gowns created with ingenious contrasts of colors and flesh tones.

Oil on canvas (1899)

by John William Godward (English, 1861-1922)


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