Girl in profile oil on canvas 38 x 25.4cm (14 15/16 x 10in).
Leighton's penchant for the classical style of painting began to dominate his work from the mid-1860s with his first important classical picture being Orpheus and Euryice in 1864. From this period Leighton was looking for greater aesthetic freedom in his paintings and with the Victorian public gradually being conditioned to accept the idea of beauty as an end in itself, he found great commercial success with such subjects. Beautiful women in graceful attitudes was the idea which first inspired him, and this decorative intention remained paramount until his death in 1896.
The present lot is thought to date from the final years of the artist's life in the 1890s and may have been done as a study or series of studies of the female profile. At the Fountain (circa 1892, Ormond no. 370) reveals a striking similarity to the models profile, and both Candida (1895, Ormond no. 399) and a study entitled Portrait of a Lady (circa 1890, fig 2, sold Sotheby's, 26 Nov 1986, lot 39) give two further examples of almost identical profile studies. The same model may have been used in all four examples.
We are very grateful to Richard Ormond for his assistance in authenticating the above lot.