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By Ryland, Henry (British, 1856-1924)
Inspired by the torpid atmosphere of the late Roman period, this beautiful painting by Henry Ryland evokes the warm and dreamy quality of Mediterranean midsummer days.
Set in an ornate giltwood frame, this beautiful painting by Henry Ryland, constituted of pencil, watercolour, and bodycolour on paper laid on board, is a stunning example of the artist’s work.
The setting for the composition is a marble-clad terrace, faint mountains and treetops visible in the distance beyond the terrace’s wall. The terrace is occupied by three female figures, two seated languorously in the foreground while a third climbs steps in the left middle ground. The figures, who wear distinctly classical dress, are ideal in their beauty; their actions are untroubled, the three tasked with weaving floral garlands from roses. There is no escaping the classicism of the scene: in addition to the dress, a Grecian amphora sits on the terrace’s wall, and a metal bowl in the foreground, laden with floral buds, is ornamented with classical masks.
Ryland was renowned for his classicised pictures, many of which follow the compositional format evident in this work (namely, classically beautiful female figures situated upon a marble terrace). His work can be set alongside the outputs of Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Albert Moore, and Frederic Leighton, among many others, all of whom practiced an Aesthetic, Neoclassical, and Academic style, with subject matter largely drawn from classical antiquity. Ryland, however, is distinctive because of his preference for watercolour as a medium. In this work, Ryland employs a subdued, almost monochromatic palette, the effect of which is to recall the warm, white-washed heat of noonday Mediterranean summer.
The picture is distinctly signed lower left ‘Henry Ryland’.
Paper: Height 37cm, width 51cm
Frame: Height 63cm, width 78cm, depth 4.5cm
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