Study for Cymon and Iphigenia


Study for Cymon and Iphigenia (England, c.1880)

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Black and white chalks on blue paper


27.60cm high
21.60cm wide
(10.87 inches high)
(8.50 inches wide)
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Description / Expertise

Cymon and Iphigenia was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1884, number 278. The painting is illustrated in Richard and Leonee Ormond's Lord Leighton, 1975, plate VII. Leighton made many figurative drawings for this work and experimented with various different poses for the reclinig figure of Iphigenia. In the final version both of her arms are placed above her head and her face and body is turned to her right-hand side. The present drawing represents an earlier idea for the figure of Iphigenia which Leighton then abandoned. Photographs exist of drawings by Leighton in which the two alternative poses for the figure are shown side by side.

The subject shows how the uncultured shepherd Cymon was awakened to new awareness by the beauty of the sleeping Iphiginia. Because the subject emphasised the transforming power of beauty, the painting was central among Leighton’s later works.