Henrietta Rae

British, 1859 - 1928

The Death of Procris

Date: 1889

Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1889. This picture is based on the myth of Cephalus and Procris. From Henrietta Rae, pp52-54:

"The moment chosen for illustration is that when the fatal dart shot by Cephalus has pierced the bosom of the loving, jealous daughter of Erechtheus, who in her search for her supposed rival has thus drawn death upon herself through the medium of her husband's hands. Procris has sunk to earth with one hand clasped to her wounded breast; she lies across the foreground of the picture with her back to the spectator, leaning heavily on her right hand; her beautiful face raised in grief and pain to Heaven is seen in profile. On the left of the picture the figure of Cephalus is seen breaking madly through the forest growth, with terror in his eyes as he realises the quarry brought down by his shot at a venture.
The progress of "The Death of Procris" was being carefully followed by the academic neighbours, friends and advisers... Leighton [suggested] that a small figure should be modelled in clay. "It's the only way out of it," he said. "Work from the living model and get it cast, as I do. Have the arms cast separately so that you can arrange miniature draperies on the figure.
Here Mr. Normand came to the rescue... and he set to work to model the "Procris".
The background of the picture was painted at Coldharbour, but the foliage through which Cephalus is forcing his way was studied from nut saplings which grew in Holland Park."

Primary source: 'Henrietta Rae (Mrs. Ernest Normand)' by Arthur Fish, Cassell and Company, 1905.

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