Liverpool artwork of the week 31 – ‘The Daphnephoria’ 1874 – 6 by Lord Leighton (1830 – 1896) Oil on canvas, 231 x 525cm in the Lady Lever Gallery
The Daphnephoria was an ancient festival held every ninth year in honour of Apollo. In particular it commemorated a Theban victory over the Aeolians.
This is the grandest of a group of huge processional pictures on which Leighton’s reputation largely rests. His classical vision of beauty and form, his skill in arranging his figures and his imagination in conceiving the rich and luxuriant setting make this one of the few British paintings which can be compared to with the great historical and mythological works of 19th century France and Germany.
‘The Daphnephoria’ was painted for the dining room of his close friend and patron, the banker James Stewart Hodgson. He was forced to sell it following the first collapse of Barings Bank in 1890.
An extended study of ‘The Daphnephoria’ is available online as part of our ‘Artwork of the month’ series.