Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Engaged Venus: The Betrothed by John William Godward

The Betrothed (1892)

As it's Valentine's Day today we thought we would go for a nice, romantic image.  Agent Triple P attended an event at the Guidhall Art Gallery last night where they have a small but significant collection of Pre-Raphaelite and classicist paintings.  Latterly most of these have been buried in the basement but we were pleased to see that they have now been restored to the main floor once more.

Of these, Triple P's favourite is The Betrothed by John William Godward which was painted in 1892 whilst he was living in Chelsea; one of sixteen paintings he produced that year.

A typically langorous Godward girl contemplates her engagement ring in an equally typical marble-ous Mediterranean setting.  This painting marks the first appearance in one of Godward's paintings, of the spotted stola around her hips.  It would appear in many more of his pictures, which makes you wonder whether it was an actual piece of costume from his studio.

Sir Harry Vanderpant

This was also the first of Godward's paintings that ended up in a major gallery. It was bought by Sir Harry Sheil Elster Vanderpant (1866-1955), later the Lord Mayor of Westminster, who gave it to the Guildhall Art Gallery in 1916.

It's quite a small painting, just 24 inches across, but confers the idea that she is thinking about her man extremely well.  Godward has rendered the leopard skin superbly in this.


  1. Very sweet pick for a romantic day. He did indeed capture her dreamy thoughts in her facial expression extremely well.

  2. His name was really VanderPANT??

    And Godward is a pretty amusing one, in the context!

    Hugz, Justine

  3. Sir Harry Vanderpant had been the Lord Mayor of Westminster and was also an extremely generous Almoner and Donation Governor to Christ's Hospital; both the girl's school in Hertford and the boys in Horsham ( school now co-ed in Horsham and the Hertford site closed).Late Headmistress Miss Dorothy Ruth West stated in her autobiography "Half to Remember" that Sir Harry was especially interested in the red-headed girls at the school, always noticing those who had left and those who were new ! This painting, therefore, was clearly to his taste.

  4. Alexandra, thanks for that! I first became interested in paintings from this period because I had a red-headed girlfriend who pointed out that a disproportionate number of the girls in late Victorian and early Edwardian pictures were red-heads! Obviously even at the time there were aficionados too!