Arcádia Interiorana

Sub specie aeternitatis


Sophie Anderson (French, 1823-1903)

Oil on canvas, 155 x 158.4 cm, 1870.
Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool.

This painting is based on a poem by Lord Tennyson. It tells the tale of Elaine, an innocent country girl who falls in love with Sir Lancelot. He abandons her in favour of Queen Guinevere and she dies from unrequited love. Anderson’s picture depicts a servant rowing Elaine’s body to King Arthur’s palace at Camelot. Anderson was born in Paris and studied there under the Russian artist Baron Charles de Steuben. Her art education was cut short when her family moved to America in 1848. From then on she was self-taught. In 1871 Liverpool held its first Autumn Exhibition. ‘Elaine’ was purchased for the town and became the first work by a female artist to enter the Walker Art Gallery collection. This remarkable acquisition indicates the forward-thinking attitude of the first purchase committee.”


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