The Garden of Hesperides

LL 3139


The Hesperides were the guardians of the tree that produced golden apples; a present given by the Earth to Hera when she married Zeus. They lived in a remote but idyllic garden in the extreme west and were assisted by the dragon (or snake), Ladon, to whom they are shown singing a lullaby. The long sinuous curves of the snake, the swan’s neck and the girls’ arms are reflected in the shape of the painting. Leighton was the leading artist of the classical revival, here represented in its late, very formal, stage. Flat patterns predominate, particularly in the intricate flutter of the central girl’s drapery. The result is an image of classical perfection and balance – all the more precious as soon afterwards Hercules will steal the golden apples from the tree and bring strife to the world.