Ethel, 1898
John William Godward (1861-1922)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 00894
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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Ethel Warwick (1882-1951) was a stage and later film actress. She first studied art at the London Polytechnic and worked as an artist’s model to pay her tuition.  She became a favoured model for Godward.

Despite training to become an artist, Warwick began to take acting lessons and appeared on stage in 1900. In 1906 she married Edmund Waller, the actor son of Lewis Waller, who was a well-known actor and theatre manager (whose portrait as Monsieur Beauclaire is in Gallery II). The Wallers embarked on a worldwide tour with various plays.

John William Godward was a Victorian Neo-Classicist and most of his paintings feature women in classical dress posed against classical landscapes. He was a protégé of Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema.

From the late 1880s Godward exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of British Arts. Prints of his works were produced which contributed to his growing popularity.

In 1911, Godward travelled to southern Italy, and ultimately moved to Rome, where ancient and classical homes and gardens, provided new source material.  Unfortunately, he was plagued by increasingly poor health and depression, and his artistic output drastically declined. He returned to London but committed suicide a year later.

Merton Russell-Cotes purchased this painting from Christies in 1917.


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