A romantic farewell scene between a young woman and a naval officer, who is about embark on a journey at sea. The woman stands beside a stone wall, her right arm resting on its flat top, with her hand held by the young man who stands on the far side, separated from her. She turns her melancholic face away from his as he looks imploringly up at her. She wears a white and pink dress decorated with lace trim and a patterned golden shawl draped over her arms. He is dressed in the naval uniform of the Napoleonic War period. In the foreground, to the left of the woman, is a wooden bench with an open book on its seat; to the right is a flowering shrub. A harbour scene extends in the background comprising of a large ship which is preparing to set sail on the right, with smaller boats in port to the left. The harbour town beyond rises steeply up the slopes of a fortified hill, which has a castle built to overlook the sea.
Adieu 1901 Edmund Blair Leighton 1853 - 1922 Oil on canvas Adieu is French for goodbye. It is much more final than au revoir, which conveys the idea of 'until I see you again'. It is interesting to consider the painting in the context of the end of the Victorian age when accepted roles for women were changing. The man is about to fulfil his duty to his country but the woman is perhaps reluctant to wait for him. Nevertheless, Blair Leighton's focus on the satin of the beautiful pink dress still emphasises woman's role as decorative object. In 1902 a 'premium print' of Adieu was given away to subscribers of the magazine, The Art Journal. James Blair Bequest 1917.193
Canvas: 86.1cm x 49.4cm
Place of creation
Oil paint on canvas
[G9] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 9
Mr James Thomas Blair bequest, 1917.
© Manchester Art Gallery