Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Baigneuse, 1887.

Zenobia’s last look on Palmyra

In 1888, Herbert Gustave Schmalz, son of a German father and an English mother, was thirty-two years old and had established a reputation as a painter of histories. Two years later, he would travel to Jerusalem and mainly paint New Testament themes for a while.

Christina Rossetti: De Profundis

OH why is heaven built so far,
Oh why is earth set so remote?
I cannot reach the nearest star
That hangs afloat.

I would not care to reach the moon,
One round monotonous of change;
Yet even she repeats her tune
Beyond my range.

I never watch the scatter’d fire
Of stars, or sun’s far-trailing train,
But all my heart is one desire,
And all in vain:

For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.


Published in A Pageant and Other Poems, 1881.

Grecian Reverie is another one of Godward’s earliest paintings. If you compare the similarily named Grecian Girl, you will find that in these two decades his technique has improved, but his style and his preferences have remained unchanged.

Waiting for an Answer is one of Godward’s oldest surviving paintings, from 1889, the year he moved away from his controlling family into his own studio. His first one, The Yellow Turban, exhibited 1887 by the Royal Academy, seems to be lost or at least no longer accessible.

The male figure is often thought to be a self-portrait. Since all photographs of Godward were destroyed, this is our only hint to what he may have looked like.

Tchaikovsky’s Valse sentimentale, the last of his Six morceaux (Six Pieces), for piano, Op. 51, was composed in 1882, during a very difficult period in the composer’s life. From the late 1870s until 1885, the composer felt restless, somewhat disoriented, and unsure of his creative powers. As a result, he led a nomadic existence, constantly traveling, without a home he could call his own. Composed in the summer of 1882, at a cottage near Kamenka, where Tchaikovsky was able to work in peace, the Six morceaux are charming, intimate miniatures—all dedicated to women. (Score Exchange)

One day, while descending from the mountaintop, I saw Virginie running from one end of the garden toward the house, her head covered by her overskirt, which she had lifted from behind her in order to gain shelter from a rain-shower. From a distance I had thought she was alone; but upon coming closer to help her walk I saw that by the arm she held Paul who was almost entirely covered by the same blanket. Both were laughing together in the shelter of this umbrella of their own invention.

This passage from Bernardin de Saint-Pierre’s Paul et Virginie may have furnished the direct inspiration for Pierre Auguste Cot’s life-size painting The Storm, which was commissioned by Catharine Lorillard Wolfe and exhibited at the Salon in 1880. She bequeathed it with her whole collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

There are many similarities between this painting and the artists earlier Spring, they are about the same size and feature the same couple. The model for the girl was obviously a different one, but the hair colors and hair styles are identical in both pictures. Since Spring was owned by Catharine’s cousin John Wolfe, so it is likely that she wanted a similar, or matching, painting.

Allegory of Sculpture is a fairly early work by Gustav Klimt, when his style was still mostly academic. Pencil and watercolor heightened with gold on cardboard, 30×43.5 cm, in the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna.

First come I. My name is Jowett.
There’s no knowledge but I know it.
I am Master of this College,
What I don’t know isn’t knowledge.

Satirical verses like this are a tradition of First stanza of the Balliol College at Oxford, the style and meter are known as Balliol rhyme. This is from The Masque of B-ll–l, a longer poem consisting of such ditties. Jowett (I have restored the vowels for better readability) is Benjamin Jowett, Master of the aforementioned college.

Reconstruction of the polychrome finish of a Greek temple of the Doric order. It might be the Parthenon in Athens (compare Leo von Klenze’s reconstruction). Chromolithography published 1883 in the series Kunsthistorische Bilderbogen by E. A. Seemann in Leipzig, cropped (see it with original text).