Helena and Hermia

WAG 398


Poynter exhibited this watercolour at the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition of 1900. By the time the Walker acquired it, the same year, Poynter was already working on a larger oil version of the same scene, although, as he assured the Walker in a letter, 'I never paint two pictures exactly like so the larger picture will not be a facsimile'. This was presumably to assure the Walker's buying committee that they were still acquring something unique. The finished oil painting is in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia. Helena and Hermia are leading female characters from William Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Growing up as childhood friends, they become love rivals in the play, until order is restored at the end.