On the Balcony

John William Godward, 1861 - 1922

On the Balcony

John William Godward 1861 - 1922


Scene in a classical setting depicting three young women on a verandah with a heavy marble seat, overlooking the sea in the background. The seat is covered with a large tiger skin on which one of the women sits. She is wearing a white dress, with yellow fabric wrapped around her middle, and a yellow band in her hair. She leans back against the exterior wall of the building on the left, a ball of wool in her hand, which she is winding with the second woman who sits to the right. Her companion is seated on the arm of the seat, which is carved to resemble a lion foot, in a salmon pink dress secured with a blue sash, yellow printed fabric around her waist. She winds the wool between her hands, her feet resting on the tiger skin. The third woman is standing on the left, leaning back against the wall, in a blue dress underneath gold fabric fastened at her shoulder, a red band in her hair. She is sewing a yellow ribbon. Chinks of light have broken through the covering of vine growing over the verandah. Tall plants grow in the border around the verandah, with trees beyond, and the coast visible in the distance.

Display Label

Gallery text panel In Pursuit of Beauty Late Victorian Art and Design Improving the quality of British art and design had been a concern since the 1850s. The British Empire had expanded into new continents but it was the classical ideal of beauty, based on Ancient Greek and Roman culture that was still considered the model for serious art. The pursuit of beauty was a form of escapism from the mass-production of industrial Britain. As well as looking to the ancient world, artists and designers were delighted and inspired by the arts of Renaissance Italy, the Middle and Far East. Many of the paintings here feature a beautiful woman. Sometimes she is a passive, decorative form, but often she is a dark and brooding femme fatale, a symbol of seduction, deception and destruction. The 'fatal woman' may reflect late Victorian male fears as women campaigned for equal rights and new roles. The emphasis on colour, harmony and rhythm and simplifying the form of an object would become major concerns in the 20th century. They can be seen emerging here in the work of late Victorian artists and designers.

Object Name

On the Balcony

Creators Name

John William Godward

Date Created



unframed: 50.5cm x 76cm
framed: 79cm x 104cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint

On Display

[BG] Manchester Art Gallery - Balcony Gallery
View all


Mr James Thomas Blair bequest, 1917.


© Manchester Art Gallery

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