Object: Ariadne in Naxos
Museum Number: P_EDM_0003
Dimensions: H 908 mm, W 1328 mm
Keywords: Evelyn De Morgan, allegorical painting, Spiritualism, Ariadne, King of Minos, Crete, Naxos, Theseus, Minotaur, labyrinth, Greek mythology
Marks / Inscriptions: Signature, painted: "EP 1877", lower right
This is one of Evelyn’s earliest paintings, executed shortly after she left the Slade School of Art. It was also the first that she exhibited at the influential Grosvenor Gallery in London. Like many of Evelyn’s early works, it is painted in a neo-classical style and is inspired by Greek mythology.
The painting depicts Ariadne (the daughter of the King of Minos), who was abandoned by her lover Theseus whilst she slept on the island of Naxos. Awakening to her fate, Ariadne is often portrayed in a frenzied rage. Here, in contrast, Evelyn depicts her after her rage has subsided, solitary and desolate, her red robe conveying the idea of martyrdom. The shells scattered on the shoreline symbolise female sexuality, fertility and love.
The painting is housed in a ‘Watts Frame’, so called after the artist who frequently used this style.
Object Location: Temporary Loan - Watts Gallery