The Return of Persephone

Frederic, Lord Leighton British

Not on view

Leighton made this study in preparation for a monumental painting depicting the myth of Persephone (Leeds Art Gallery). At the right, Persephone’s pale body rises out of the underworld, where she is condemned to spend part of each year among the dead. Head flung back, arms extended beseechingly, she is supported by Hermes, the messenger of the gods, who wears a blue cloak and red-winged hat. On the left, Demeter, goddess of the harvest and agriculture, greets her daughter with open arms. The reunion of Demeter and Persephone was associated with renewal and the changing of the seasons, evoked here by the warm blue sky and the sprig of almond blossom at Demeter’s feet.

The Return of Persephone, Frederic, Lord Leighton (British, Scarborough 1830–1896 London), Oil on canvas

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