Artist: De Morgan, Evelyn
Object Number: P_EDM_0027
Date: 1910 - 1919
Category: Oil on canvas and Paintings
Material: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Framed: H 1208 x W 788 x D 70 mm

It may seem surprising just how many of Evelyn’s paintings are situated with water and in particular the sea in the background of the image. For Evelyn the motif of the sea encompassed a number of tropes both metaphorical and physical. Evelyn uses the device to help create a mood, for instance, beauteous contemplation or violence and death. It could be a vehicle for allegory, indicating birth and renewal or the end of life. It could contain creatures representative of evil such as crocodiles, dinosaurs or dragons or creatures of beauty and myth such as mermaids.

In this painting executed towards the end of Evelyn’s life, the sea is used to illustrate her spiritualist belief that at the moment of death the soul’s essence, or spirit, passes out of the body and into the light of the next world. The dying figure is sitting on rocks in a dark shadowy land. The flaming torch of life has fallen from her hand and will shortly be extinguished in the water. A dark shadow of a dragon representative of evil menaces the dying woman, and yet her spirit passes safely across the water, to the sunlight of the spirit world on the other side of the pool.