Bonhams : William Stott of Oldham (British 1857-1900) Diana, Twilight and Dawn 122 x 148 cm. (48 x 58 1/4 in.)
William Stott of Oldham (British 1857-1900) Diana, Twilight and Dawn 122 x 148 cm. (48 x 58 1/4 in.)

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Lot 64*
William Stott of Oldham
(British 1857-1900)
Diana, Twilight and Dawn 122 x 148 cm. (48 x 58 1/4 in.)

£ 70,000 - 100,000
US$ 91,000 - 130,000
William Stott of Oldham (British 1857-1900)
Diana, Twilight and Dawn
signed 'WILLIAM STOTT OF OLDHAM' (lower left)
oil on canvas
122 x 148 cm. (48 x 58 1/4 in.)


  • Provenance:
    Estate of Nicholas Polachones of Portland, Oregon, by descent to his

    William Stott, son of an Oldham mill owner, went to Paris in 1878, at the age of 20, to train with the classical French Painter Jean-Léon Gérôme. He adopted a realist style of painting and achieved rapid success, being medalled at the Paris Salon in 1882 for his painting The Bathing Place (Munich). He became a leading figure in the Anglo-American artist's community in Paris and for a while he was seen as one of the most progressive of English painters. In Paris, where he kept an apartment throughout the 1880s, he was exposed to the radical cross-currents of Impressionism and Symbolism and he made many influential friends in the artistic community. On returning to England he became a follower and close friend of James McNeill Whistler until his painting of Whistler's mistress depicted naked as The Birth of Venus (Gallery Oldham) caused a rift between them. In his latter years he exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy mainly highly decorative works depicting scenes from medieval and classical mythology. He died in 1900 at the age of 42 while on a sea crossing to Ireland.

    In the 1880s, with the Aesthetic Movement in full swing, the portrayal of the nude as a paradigm of pure beauty had become, not only acceptable, but almost de rigueur for those who wished to enter the portals of the Royal Academy under it's president, Frederick Lord Leighton. Leighton was the undisputed leader of the 'classical' strand of the Aesthetic Movement and, as Christopher Wood has said, "...the election of Leighton to the Academy presidency in 1878 did give impetus to the general swing towards classical subjects, both among younger artists wanting to make their name and among older artists ready to trim their sails to the new artistic breezes blowing in from Italy and Greece." [Victorian Painting, 1999, p.222]

    The story of Diana, goddess of the moon and hunters, has captured the imagination of artists down the centuries from, Correggio to Rubens, Fragonard and Renoir. It was also taken up by leading members of the Victorian classical revival in England such as George Frederick Watts, Sir Edward Poynter and Walter Crane. In 1887, with The Nymph (Glasgow Museums) and The Birth of Venus, William Stott turned his back on his realist roots and the stifling influence of Whistler and deliberately set out to find acceptance within the art establishment and in particular The Royal Academy. His 1888 painting of Diana and Endymion (untraced) was widely praised and later exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1890. In it, the figure of the moon goddess Diana emerges through the moonlight to kiss the sleeping shepherd Endymion, whom the gods granted eternal sleep to preserve his beauty and youth. Stott is clearly influenced by Keats' romantic poem Endymion and acknowledged this debt in a speech to the Manchester Arts Club, when he said "the reading of Keats has been one of my greatest enjoyments in life..." Diana, Twilight and Dawn was painted in the winter of 1889 and exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in London in the spring of 1890. Stott depicts Diana, the moon goddess, symbolically attended on either side by twilight and dawn.

    In his monograph on Stott in The Studio of October 1894 the art critic R.A.M. Stevenson gives Diana, Twilight and Dawn a full page illustration and describes it as "a lovely scheme of silvered colour, shimmering leaves, iris flowers and ivory flesh." Exhibited at several memorial exhibitions after Stott's death in 1900, it was sold by his son at Christie's in November 1913 and bought by Charles Jackson, a Manchester art dealer. It was thought to have been lost, but has recently appeared in the USA.

    Roger Brown, William Stott of Oldham: A Comet Rushing to the Sun, 2003, exhibition catalogue for Gallery Oldham.
    Christopher Wood, Victorian Painting, 1999.
    R.A.M. Stevenson, William Stott of Oldham The Studio, October, 1894.
    Alice Corkran, William Stott of Oldham Scottish Arts Review, April 1889.

    We are extremely grateful to Roger Brown for his kind assistance in preparing this footnote.
William Stott of Oldham (British 1857-1900) Diana, Twilight and Dawn 122 x 148 cm. (48 x 58 1/4 in.)
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