1931 photograph & Head of a Girl.

On a Royal Academy page, there’s a photograph of Annie said to have been taken in 1931, showing her in front of a large and otherwise unknown painting.

1931 photograph

Image: Royal Academy.

The image is possibly a work named ‘Desire’ or ‘An Image of Desire.’ In an Express interview of 1933, Annie says it is an allegorical work based on the works of Shelley. She had the painting returned from Rome so she could finish it, intending it for submission to the Royal Academy that summer, but was too unwell, submitting three earlier paintings instead. She said, “In the winged figure, I have tried to express the desire of the moth for the star – the ‘something’  we all strive for in this life, but never attain.” (Research by Alaistair Swinnerton.)

No specific Shelley poem refers to these precise themes, but related passages might be Epipsychidion (lines 218-23)

I sprang, as one sandalled with plumes of fire,
And towards the lodestar of my one desire,
I flitted, like a dizzy moth, whose flight
Is as a dead leaf’s in the owlet light
When it would seek in Hesper’s setting sphere
A radiant death, a fiery sepulchre,

… and lines from an untitled poem, published in 1924 …

The desire of the moth for the star,
Of the night for the morrow,
The devotion to something afar
From the sphere of our sorrow?

The head in the photographed image resembles another painting specifically identified as coming from the 1934 sale, Head of a Girl. (Possible lot 57, ‘Head of a girl singing.’)

Head of a girl



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