Monday, February 17, 2014


A "lost" painting said to have "shocked" the Victorians with its depiction of a young woman in a diaphanous pink gown doing a sensuous dance in Pompeii has been rediscovered and has sold at auction at Bonhams in London for £301,250 ($454,750).

The painting, by Sir Edward John Poynter and entitled "The Ionian Dance," caused ladies to swoon and heterosexual gentlemen to twitch their moustaches in titillation when it was unveiled in 1895.

Homosexual art aficionados at the time noted Poynter's brilliant mastery of the brush in creating realistic marble surfaces polished so smoothly that they reflect light. They also marveled at the way the sheer fabric flows.

The painting was last seen on the open market in 1915, when it passed into a private collection and out of the public gaze.

It has now re-emerged nearly a century later after being offered at Bonhams auction house.

A spokesman called the painting "arguably the most important work by Sir Edward Poynter," as he claimed it was the first opportunity for it to be seen in "generations," according to a report in THE TELEGRAPH.

The image is intended to bring to life an ancient Greek poem by Horace, in which a young girl is exiled from Greece and the Ionian islands. She is seen in the painting in a translucent gown, performing a native dance for her Roman mistress.

It is said to have been "heavily influenced" by the stories of debauchery coming out of the buried city of Pompeii, after it was rediscovered in 1863.

A spokesman for Bonhams told The Telegraph: "For the first time, excavations exposed magnificent murals, artworks and the preserved remains of the city's inhabitants.

"The city had been discovered once before in 1599 by an architect who stumbled across frescoes of such frequent sexual content that they were hastily covered over again and no more of the city was touched.

"After the 19th century re-discovery, artists were heavily influenced by the ancient Roman culture that had been tragically wiped from history."

"The Ionian Dance" was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, and bought from the artist by notable collector Robert English. It remained in his collection until his death in 1914, when it was sold by his estate.

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