Manchester Art Gallery

Diana and Endymion

Object description

A mythological scene of Endymion lying asleep on Mount Latmos. Whilst he lies sleeping, the naked figure of Diana stands watching over him, framed by the full moon behind her and swathed in diaphanous robes that billow out behind her. He lies on furs under a blanket with a crook in his arm, bathed in the glow of the moon. The scene is framed by flowering poppies and the heavy dark trees of a forest.

Display label

Diana and Endymion 1901 Sir Edward John Poynter 1836-1919 Oil on canvas In Greek mythology, Diana is the goddess of the moon. She catches sight of the sleeping Endymion, and falls in love with him. As he is a man, not a god, their love is forbidden. Poynter painted this scene from John Keats’ version of the Diana and Endymion myth: his poem ‘Endymion’. Keats was a Romantic poet. He emphasised the lovesick suffering of Endymion which began with this vision of his beloved Diana. The poet describes a magical carpet of flowers and gives the moon goddess a billowing blue scarf which Poynter faithfully represents. Poynter was commissioned to paint this picture by Agnew’s, a private picture gallery and dealer, for an exhibition of English contemporary art. It is based on one of his illustrations to ‘Endymion’, published in a luxury edition of Keats’ poem in 1873. James Gresham bequest 1917.254