Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A. (British, 1830–1896)
Study for Captive Andromache, ca. 1888
Oil on panel, 7 7/8 x 16 in.
Among the grandest of Leighton’s works are four processional pictures: monumental, frieze-like compositions that revolve around a single central figure. Three of these paintings—which are represented in the Dahesh Collection by small studies—take their subjects from ancient Greek sources. Homer’s Iliad inspired Captive Andromache (ca. 1886–88, Manchester Art Gallery), yet Leighton did not adhere to the main narratives, preferring to select his themes from peripheral incidents.
Captive Andromache depicts Hector’s premonition of his wife’s fate should he be killed in battle: drawing water among the common people. The luxuriant brushwork of this exquisite, semi-abstract oil sketch is a far cry from the careful finish of the final painting, yet this sketch was a crucial step in Leighton’s working procedure, and would have been created only after a painting’s entire composition had been worked out in many detailed scale drawings.