Artist: De Morgan, Evelyn
Object Number: P_EDM_0056
Date: 1914 - 1916
Category: Homecoming, Oil on canvas, and Paintings
Material: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Framed: H 934 x W 655 x D 50 mm
Inscriptions: Signature: 'EdeM'

Evelyn responded to the horror and futility of World War I with a series of works that attempted to come to terms with the conflict between good and evil. This painting takes its title from the then relatively new Morse code cry for help. The literal translation of the message (save our souls) also conveys a sense of what is really at stake here.

The sole female figure in white robes symbolises the innocence of the victims of war. She stands upon a solitary rock, hands outstretched and her eyes turned towards heaven, seeking both physical and spiritual deliverance from her plight as she is besieged by thundering waves and a myriad of sea serpents. Dragons and sea monsters are often used in Evelyn’s symbolist lexicon to reference evil and death. However, in this painting Evelyn produces a ray of hope for eventual salvation with the addition of the rainbow – symbolic of the afterlife.

Evelyn maintained her own faith to the end – the De Morgans’ joint tombstone reads ‘Sorrow is only of the Earth, the life of the spirit is joy’.