Gavin Claxton



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‘Awakening’ by Herbert James Draper (1864-1920).

This monumental oil painting – which depicts two wood nymphs rising to meet the morning sun – is signed by the artist and dated 1918 in which year it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.

In its review of the highlights of the 1918 Royal Academy Exhibition ‘The Connoisseur’ magazine praised the painting’s “grace and refinement” and in his 2003 book ‘Herbert Draper, a Life Study’, Simon Toll (Senior Director at Sotheby’s in London) further discusses the painting; the artist’s last great full-length painting of neoclassical nudes…

“An enigmatic dryad is seated against the foot of an ancient tree. A naked bacchante sprawls on a leopard skin in a bestial pose consistent with the temperament of Bacchus’ worshippers. The painting depicts the morning after the night before, the post-coital slumber of the orgiastic reveller. Are the women abandoned like Ariadne, or are their latest lovers like those of the kelpie, submerged lifeless somewhere amongst the leave mounds? The bacchante emerges from the dried leaves, from which she has spent the night after the previous day’s drunken orgies.” 

Herbert Draper entered the Royal Academy Schools in London in 1885, winning a silver medal for life drawing the following year. He first exhibited at the R.A. in 1887, and the following year won a travelling scholarship enabling him to complete his studies in Paris at the Académie Julian under Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger. In 1889 Draper won the Royal Academy Gold Medal and another scholarship, and spent much of 1890 travelling in Europe, visiting Spain and Italy. On his return to England, Draper found huge success with his paintings of mythological subjects, and he would go on to rival Lord Leighton and John William Waterhouse as one of England’s greatest painters of Academic Romanticism.

Draper’s painting ‘The Lament for Icarus’, won the gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900 and was purchased for the Tate Gallery in London in 1898.

Academy Fine Paintings only offers artwork for sale in the finest condition it can be for its age, having been professionally cleaned, conserved, and re-varnished. Clients should also note that tracked and signed for international shipping is complimentary.

Dimensions: (framed) 131cm x 229cm (51½” x 90”)

Dimensions: (canvas only) 107cm x 205cm (42” x 80¾”)

Medium: Oil on canvas.

Provenance: 1918; exhibited as ‘Reveil’ at the Royal Academy in London (catalogue no.304). Thence in the private UK collection.

Literature: 1918; ‘The Connoisseur’ magazine, vol.LI, p.115. 2003; ‘Herbert Draper 1863-1920: A Life Study’ by Simon Toll, pp.48, 163-164, 197, colour plate 52.

Presentation: Fine quality bespoke gold metal leaf frame.

Condition: Very good. Professionally cleaned, restored, and re-varnished. Ready to hang.



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