Women of Phoenicia

WAG 2823


Phoenicia was a country in Asia, to the east of the Mediterranean. It flourished in commerce and navigation, colonising ports such as Carthage and Marseilles. In this scene, two women gaze out to sea at a departing ship, possibly carrying their loved ones. The painting may relate to the tragedy of the same name by Euripedes. Fowler was following the lead of Frederic Leighton (1830 - 1896) and Albert Moore (1841 - 1893) by using a classical theme, not for any political or moral message, but to celebrate beauty for its own sake. In this ‘decorative’ work, the subject-matter is less significant than its mood. There is a romantic and sensual tone to the painting too, with the drapery worn by the women subtly emphasising their bodies.