Mischief and Repose

Reclining on a tiger skin draped over a marble ledge, a young woman, Repose, is disturbed from slumber by her companion, Mischief, who pesters her with a dress pin. They wear diaphanous robes fashioned after worn by women in ancient Greece. Another dress pin and a hair ribbon lie scattered on the marble floor. Following the excavations of , which began in 1748, artists were fascinated with Greek and Roman life. John William Godward painted many scenes like this one of idealized beauties in calm, often sterile environments. In this painting, the figure of Repose is arranged seductively, with her breast and nipple showing through the thin material of her dress. But there is something distinctly untouchable about these women; they do not engage the viewer with an inviting gaze nor solicit personal contact. Like their setting, they possess a monumental, marmoreal quality, resembling Greek statues frozen in time.

Oil on canvas (1895)

by John William Godward (English, 1861-1922)

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