Monday 19 December 2022

More Filth

And still it comes. The latest specimen of high-toned vintage porn to turn up on my Facebook feed is this, Girl with a Mirror by one John William Godward. This scene from an imaginary classical world is very much in the manner of Alma-Tadema, and Godward was indeed a protégé of that master of marble and flesh. From what I've seen of his work online, Godward seems to have been gifted in the same line, though he lacks the master's exquisite delicacy of touch and is even more inclined to titillating effects, making much use of diaphanous fabrics. Godward was quite successful – at least until the coming of modernism made his (and all the Victorian Classicists') style hopelessly unfashionable – but he had a sad life. According to Wikipedia, 'the overbearing attitude of his parents made him reclusive and shy later in adulthood', and when he moved to Italy with one of his models, his family, who disapproved strongly of his pursuing an artistic career, cut him off completely, even removing his image from family photographs. Godward committed suicide in 1922, thereby bringing further shame on the family, who promptly burned all his papers and effects. Like all those High Victorian Dreamers, he was by then an all but forgotten figure, but, like them, he was later rediscovered, and his pictures now fetch high prices. One of his best-known paintings, Dolce Far Niente, with its obvious echoes of Frederic Leighton's Flaming June, is now in the collection of Lord Lloyd Webber, no less.

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