Frederic, Lord Leighton British

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 800

Leighton’s nickname, Jupiter Olympus, reflects his passion for the ancient Greek and Roman world. He derived this painting’s title from the Latin word for “tears.” The theme of sorrow is represented by a woman in dark robes standing beside a memorial with a withered wreath at her feet. Behind her is a cypress, a symbol of mourning and immortality, backlit by a funeral bonfire or a sunset. Emphatic vertical lines structure the composition and its frame, which Leighton designed. The artist exhibited the work with Flaming June (hanging nearby) at the Royal Academy in London in 1895. A critic there observed, “Flaming June [is] indicative of the joy of summer, and Lachrymae, its antithesis, the falling tears of winter’s grief.”

Lachrymae, Frederic, Lord Leighton (British, Scarborough 1830–1896 London), Oil on canvas

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