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Australian art

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Lysistrata II



Arthur Boyd

Australia, England

24 Jul 1920 - 24 Apr 1999


Concurrent with the publication of the portfolio of Lysistrata etchings at the end of 1970, Boyd was commissioned by St. Helier Hospital in Carshalton, London to paint these two large works for the library.

An interest in ancient Greek myths and literary themes developed during the sixties and the story of Lysistrata, by the playwright Aristophanes, accommodated Boyd's enduring theme of conflict between opposing forces, in this case sexual desire and anti-war sentiment.

In the play, an Athenian woman - Lysistrata, 'dismisser of armies' - persuades the women of Athens to abstain from sexual relations with their husbands until the war with Sparta ends, successfully forcing a conclusion to the hostilities.

Boyd, however, chooses to depict a woman who breaks from her self-imposed internment and makes way in the dead of night to meet her husband, symbolically waiting near the cave of Pan, the ancient god of love. The intense yellow glow of the bright lantern within the grotto illuminates the seated dog to the left of the cave opening. Used often by Boyd in his earlier paintings, the haunting image of the sitting dog is a classical symbol of the spiritual guardian of humanity.


Place where the work was made

Carshalton London England



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


300.0 x 443.0 cm

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, red oil "Arthur Boyd/ 1971".


Purchased with funds provided by Katies through the auspices of Joseph and Gerda Brender 1982


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Arthur Boyd

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Janet McKenzie, Arthur Boyd: Art and life, 'Experimentation: Graphic work', pg. 116-129, London, 2000, 129.

Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd retrospective, Sydney, 1993, 127 (illus. colour). 111

Barry Pearce, Look, 'The legacy in Sydney Arthur Boyd', pg. 18-20, Melbourne, Jul 1999, 20.