Year of creation - 1898, oil on canvas. Located at The Herbert Art Gallery Museum, Coventry, UK.
The artist belonged to the direction of the Pre-Raphaelites, which appeared in English painting from the 1850s. They sought to get away from thoughtless academism, idealizing the image and limited in the choice of topic. At that time, it meant going against the Royal Academy of Arts, therefore, it was subjected to great criticism. One of the main features of the new trend was the desire to write people from nature.
The painting depicts the moment of a legendary story that occurred in Coventry in the middle of the 11th century. The locals are supposed to have suffered so much exorbitant taxes that Lady Godiva came to her husband, the richest Count Leofric, to ask for them. Being drunk, the man agreed, under an impossible condition for her, to pass around the city naked. However, a noble lady placed the needs of society above her pride and honor. People loved her so much that on a certain day they didn’t take to the streets, closing all the windows and doors. So, not seen by anyone and covered only with her hair, the maiden galloped through the city. However, the whole story is most likely a beautiful fiction.
Collier in his picture, unlike most authors, portrayed the beautiful red-haired Godiva with an embarrassed and frightened crazy trip. Despite her act, she is elegant and innocent. The nudity and fragility of her figure contrast with the richly decorated horse blankets and harness, the horse's muscles, which are especially clearly drawn on a powerful neck. The painter surprisingly accurately reflected on the canvas and many other details. In the background, the uneven masonry and the jagged column look really ancient. The viewer sees every link of the gold chain and the coat of arms on the reins, a magnificent pattern of lilac and greenish-yellow on the saddle, a floral ornament of braid and golden English royal lions on the bedspread of a horse. It should also be noted the magnificent color scheme, which transfers in ancient times, and the composition, which makes the rider feel the slow movement.
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