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Swanson, Vern

J.W. Godward (1861-1922). The Eclipse of Classicism

John William Godward was among the brightest stars of the late Graeco-Roman painters during classicism´s twilight years. Some believe he equalled Alma-Tadema in his depiction of marble and flowers and Frederic Leighton in his depiction of drapery. However, his own reclusive nature, society´s loss of interest in classical subject painting, aggressive modernist art and the efforts of his disapproving family conspired to plunge him into obscurity.

Godward´s art was more than escapist; it was purposely beautiful in an age plunging headlong into atrocity. For Godward, art was not only an aesthetic exercise but also a form of therapy. Through these pictures he lived his self-contained life until melancholia, fed by ill health and increasing artistic criticism, overwhelmed his fantasy haven. A hapless victim of his own personality, unable to make his way in a hostile world, Godward ended it all.
Swanson´s original edition of John William Godward introduced the life of a very private man who pushed the classical ideal further into the twentieth century than most would think possible. This revised edition contains the author´s latest research - significant expansions to the text, as well as approximately 100 new pictures, many of which have only recently been attributed to Godward.

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