163.0 x 328.0cm sight; 218.4 x 390.0 x 15.5cm frame
Not only president of the Royal Academy but a Peer of the Realm, Frederick Leighton occupied a uniquely privileged place in the artistic and social establishment of Victorian England. The first of many major paintings he exhibited at the Academy was purchased by Queen Victoria herself - an unbeatable beginning to a lifetime of official reward and international recognition. Leighton's taste, like that of his audience, was for ceremonial arrangements of beautifully draped figures in classical surroundings. The contemporary realities of industrial England made no appearance in his work, which is unashamedly nostalgic and idealising.The languorous splendour of 'Cymon and Iphigenia' - the tale of a raw youth brought to moral excellence by the revelation of feminine beauty - perfectly expresses the technical finesse and intense eroticism of Leighton's style. Iphigenia's extraordinary undulations betray a sensuous sensibility quite as much as the artist's obligatory scrutiny of classical statuary. The direct source of the narrative is Boccaccio's 'Decameron', in which the well-born and handsome young Galesus was renamed Cymon - meaning beast - on account of his brutishness. On a mild afternoon in May, Cymon chanced upon the sleeping Iphigenia, sensing at once that she was 'the loveliest object that any mortal being had ever seen'. Falling instantly in love, he became a lifelong devotee of beauty and philosophy.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.
Christie's London (England), 13 Feb 1976, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Christie's London, 13 February 1976, lot 45
Pamela Cavendish, pre 13 Feb 1976, sold Christie's London, 13 February 1976, lot 45
Maas Gallery, London (England), post 13 Mar 1969, England, Purchased from Knight, Frank & Rutley, 13 March 1969, lot no. 225
John Avery, pre 13 Mar 1969, dates unknown
Mitchell, post 15 Jul 1938, Purchased from Albu sale, Christie's London, 15 July 1938, lot no. 42
Leopold Albu, pre 15 Jul 1938, sold after his death, Christie's London 15 July 1938, lot 42
H Smith, post 09 Jul 1909, Purchased from Quilter sale, Christie's London, 9 July 1909, lot 65
Sir W.E. Cuthbert Quilter (England, b.1873, d.1952), pre 09 Jul 1909, Sussex/England, his sale Christie's London, 9 July 1909, 'The collection of Pictures & Drawings of Sir W. Cuthbert Quilter, Bart' lot no. 65
Fine Art Society PLC (England, estab. 1876), 1884, London/England
Angus Trumble (Australia) (Curator), Love and Death: art in the age of Queen Victoria, Adelaide, 2001, 98, 99 (colour illus.).
Luke Herrmann (England) (Author), Nineteenth Century British Painting, London, 2000, 323 (illus.). plate 201
Bruce James (Australia) (Author), Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Director), Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, Domain, 1999, 44 (colour illus.).
Christopher Wood (England, b.1941) (Author), Victorian Painting, London, 1999, 184 (illus.), 189, 192. plate no. 225
Peter Tomory (United Kingdom) (Author), Anne Kirker (New Zealand; Australia, b.1947) (Author), British painting 1800-1990 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1997, 122 (illus.). cat.no. 1326
Stephen Jones (Author), Christopher Newall (Author), Leonée Ormond (Author), Richard Ormond (Author), Benedict Read (Author), Frederic Leighton, New York, Feb 1996, 199 (colour illus.). cat.no. 89, plate no. 89
Frederick Lord Leighton 1996, 1996.
Hiroyuki Tanita (Author), F. Lord Leighton, Tokyo, 1995, 62, 63 (colour illus.).
Ewen McDonald (Australia) (Editor), The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, Sydney, 1994, 135 (colour illus.).
Renée Free (Australia) (Author), Rose Peel (Australia) (Author), Dreams and realities: Victorian works on paper, Domain, 1993, 2.
Annabel Davie (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Handbook, Domain, 1988, 42-43 (colour illus.).
Renée Free (Australia) (Author), Art Gallery of New South Wales catalogue of British paintings, Sydney, 1987, 109 (illus.), 110.
'European Acquisitions: 1972-83' by Renee Free pg. 63-67, Art and Australia (Vol. 22, No. 1) Spring 1984, Spring 1984, 63, 65 (colour illus.).
Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Editor), Jan Meek (Australia) (Editor), Portrait of a Gallery, Sydney, 1984, 16 (colour illus.).
Christopher Wood (England, b.1941) (Author), Olympian Dreamers, London, 1983, 70, 75, 76 (illus.). fig. 23
Clem Lloyd (Author), Peter Sekuless (Author), Australia's national collections, North Ryde, 1980, 255 (colour illus.).
Renée Free (Australia) (Author), Recent Acquisitions. The Art Gallery of New South Wales today.
Art Gallery of New South Wales (Australia, estab. 1874) (Editor), Catalogue of acquisitions 1976, Domain, 1976, 9 (illus.), 11, 12.
Leonée Ormond (Author), Richard Ormond (Author), Lord Leighton, United States of America, 1975, (colour illus.). cat.no. 313, plate no. VII
Mrs R Barrington (Author), Leighton, 1906, 258.
E. Staley (Author), Leighton, London, 1906, 126-127.
Christie's London (England), The collection of Pictures & Drawings of Sir W. Cuthbert Quilter, Bart, London, 09 Jul 1909, 19. cat.no. 65
'The collection of Mr W. Cuthbert Quilter, M.P.' by F.G. Stephens, pg.126-128, Magazine of Art 1897, 1897, 126 (illus.), 127, 128.
Fine Art Society PLC (England, estab. 1876) (Author), Cymon and Iphigenia painted by F. Leighton: The Story of the picture, London, 1884, (illus.).
Author Unknown (Author), Sleeping Beauty, Tokyo.
Royal Academy of Arts, 1884, Royal Academy of Arts, 1884–1884.
Unknown, Berlin, Dresden, Vienna 1885, Exhibition Venue Unknown, 1885–1885.
Unknown, Guildhall 1897, Mansion House, 1897–1897.
Royal Academy of Arts winter exhibition, 1897, Royal Academy of Arts, Winter 1897–Winter 1897.
Frederic, Lord Leighton, Royal Academy of Arts, 15 Feb 1996–21 Apr 1996.