Notes on St. Martin’s Summer, The Sense of Sight and A Dream of Italy.

From scouring newspaper archives, have found that St. Martin’s Summer dates back to at least 1898, which places it a near contemporary of The Sense of Sight (1895), with which it has a resemblance, and in the midst of Annie’s finest symbolist works in general.


Have given the correct name to A Dream of Italy, which I had been mistakenly calling The Dream of Italy.

There are a couple of identification issues with this work. First, dream2dream1the images come from a 1899 newspaper and a very recent auction sale, but in neither case is the painting given a title. The title comes from written descriptions of the work in early nineteenth century newspapers and exhibition catalogues which seem to match this image, but without absolute certainty.

Also, the background in the two images is obviously different, but in other parts, particularly around the base of the picture, the imagery appear identical. I’m guessing that it is the same canvas and with the background and some minor details on the figure reworked by Annie.

Discovered a nice quote relating to A Dream of Italy and Annie’s lack of official recognition in The Guardian, 19 October 1920:

Mrs. Swynnerton’s painting “A Dream of Italy” has just been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of New York … It was one of the pictures in Mrs. Charles Hunters collection, and the original price paid to the artist was 100.

It is a curious and saddening reflection that this veteran artist, whose work is esteemed so highly among artists, particularly by such an authority as Mr. John Sargent, who has many times given practical expression of his admiration, is only represented in two English public galleries – In Manchester, where she was born and educated, the only example is her early portrait of Mr. Gaskell, which was bequeathed to the gallery! The other picture is her “Cupid and Psyche” at Oldham.*

Mrs. Swynnerton is now in her seventy-sixth year, and if any honour is to come to her from her own country it should not be much longer delayed. She is the daughter of a Manchester lawyer, and began her art training at the Manchester School of Art. She went to Rome in 1874, and since then has divided her time between London and Rome.

* In fact, there were two other works in public galleries, Oceanid in Bradford and The Tryst in Salford. From 1923 to 1939 Manchester Art Gallery acquired 15 other paintings by Annie, two purchased and the rest gifts or bequests.


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