Love's Palace

WAG 304


Strudwick formed strong links to the second generation of Pre-Raphaelites by working as a studio assistant for John Roddam Stanhope Spencer (1829-1908) and Edward Burne-Jones. He also carved out a successful career in his own right, specialising in allegorical, literary and religious works. His paintings were particularly popular with Liverpool patrons including George Holt, whose collection at Sudley House is now part of National Museums Liverpool. Holt was a wealthy shipping magnate who lived at the house in the Mossley Hill suburb of Liverpool. He filled his home with works of art by largely contemporary artists. He tended to buy from dealers, rather than direct from the artist, but he commissioned Strudwick to paint three works for him, highlighting his strong admiration for the painter. Love's Palace is an allegorical picture based on a poem by the architect and poet George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907). Enthroned in the centre of the composition sits Love. The three Fates are seated by the base of the steps. On either side of these figures are several young women; some watch a bubble floating away - a symbol of both vanity and hope - and one cries in vain, while the others listen to sweet music and read about love. Behind them are knights on horseback, those on the left symbolising the sorrow of love and on the right, its joy. This was the first of the three paintings commissioned directly from the artist by Holt in his last years. The subject, suggested by Strudwick, is based on lines from a poem by GF Bodley, who was also a well-known architect.