Manchester Art Gallery

The Southing of the Sun

Object description

Three-quarter length figure subject of an elderly Mediterranean peasant woman. Dressed in a simple skirt and bodice, her hands are turned outwards from her sides in gesture. Hazy sunlit mountain setting, with the sunlight catching the woman's hair and the edges of her clothes.

Display label

The Southing of the Sun 1911 Annie Louisa Swynnerton 1844-1933 Oil on canvas Mancunian Annie Swynnerton painted this figure at Nemi, a town in the Alban hills, south of her adopted home city of Rome. The light shining behind the figure could be reflected from the volcanic crater lake which the town overlooks – or it could be an effect created by Swynnerton to add strangeness. The title is a quote from May-Day by the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). The subsequent lines counsel patience and trust: The world rolls round, - mistrust it not, - Befalls again what once befell We might imagine such words to be spoken by the peasant woman, but her uncanny presence transforms them into a spell, rather than simply wise advice about the passing of the seasons. Purchased from the artist 1923.47