Frederic Lord Leighton (After)

The Last Watch Of Hero

Frederic Lord Leighton (After)

The Last Watch Of Hero

This enchanting Victorian photogravure is after a painting by Frederic Lord Leighton (1830-1896) titled ‘The Last Watch Of Hero’. It describes the emotional climax of a story from Greek mythology.

Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite, and Leander, a young man from Abydos, are desperately in love. Hero resides in a tower and the two are separated by the Hellespont - a treacherous passage of water.

Undeterred, each night Leander would swim across the strait to spend time with Hero, an act of true chivalry. However, one stormy evening, Leander attempted to cross but the winds blew out the tower’s torch that usually guided his way. He was tragically drowned and, upon seeing his body, Hero immediately leapt to her death to join him in the afterlife.

Their bodies were later discovered on the shore - still holding each other - an embrace unbroken by the cold fingers of mortality.

In this image, we see Hero as she looks anxiously out from the tower. She’ll soon learn of Leander’s fate and crash to her death. This is the moment where her love overwhelms her sensibility.

The original painting resides in the Manchester Art Gallery along with a portrayal of Leander laying dead on the rocks.

Leighton was a master at scenes such as these, which aimed to raise the overall standard of British art by drawing upon classical tales from antiquity. A worthy subject for a sophisticated artist.

The romantic element of this ill-fated coupled undoubtedly roused the interests of a Victorian public longing for a creative escape.

Stamped in the lower left and framed.

Learn more about Frederic Lord Leighton in our directory.

Medium: Photogravure on paper
Overall size: 30” x 40½” / 77cm x 103cm
Year of creation: c. 1897
Condition: Artwork presents well. Frame with some light wear.

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