Damon and Musidora from Thomson's Seasons - Summer (1727)

John Opie, RA (St Agnes 1761 – London 1807)
National Trust Inventory Number 486144

Category Paintings
Date circa 1788
Materials Oil on canvas
Measurements
Place of origin
Collection Petworth House and Park, West Sussex (Accredited Museum)
On show at Petworth House and Park, West Sussex, London and South East, National Trust

This picture illustrates a scene from James Thompson’s ‘Seasons’ of 1730. Damon and Musidora appear in ‘Summer’. Damon is sitting by a stream when his love, Musidora appears, thinking she is alone, and proceeds to undress in order to bathe.

The scene is derived from ‘Daphnis and Chloe’ by the Ancient poet, Longus, but in that instance, it was Chloe who spies her love Daphnis preparing to bathe. The scene is a test of Damon’s fidelity and love:

“What shall he do? in sweet confusion lost,

And dubious flutterings, he awhile remain’d:

A pure ingenuous elegance of soul,

A delicate refinement known to few,

Perplex’d his breast, and urg’d him to retire:

But Love forbade.”

Summary description

Oil painting on canvas, Damon and Musidora by John Opie, RA (St Agnes 1761 – London 1807). The country girl Musidora seated, full-length, by a pool. Her shoulders and right breast are bare; and she is wearing a white dress with a blue sash. In the left upper corner Damon can be seen behind a tree. From James Thomsons' s The Seasons - Summer (1727):

"Thrice happy swain!

A lucky chance, that oft decides the fate

Of mighty monarchs, then decided thine.

For lo! conducted by the laughing Loves

This cool retreat his Musidora sought:

Warm in her cheeks the sultry season glow’d,

Her fervent limbs in the refreshing stream.

What shall he do? in sweet confusion lost,

And dubious flutterings, he awhile remain’d:

A pure ingenuous elegance of soul,

A delicate refinement known to few,

Perplex’d his breast, and urg’d him to retire:

But Love forbade."

Provenance

Owned by Sir John Leicester Bart., and displayed in his gallery at Tabley House, Cheshire. In the collection of the 3rd Earl of Egremont (1731-1857) by 1835. Thence by descent, until the death in 1952 of the 3rd Lord Leconfield, who had given Petworth to the National Trust in 1947, and whose nephew and heir, John Wyndham, 6th Lord Leconfield and 1st Lord Egremont (1920-72) arranged for the acceptance of the major portion of the collections at Petworth in lieu of death duties (the first ever such arrangement) in 1956 by H.M.Treasury.

Makers and roles

John Opie, RA (St Agnes 1761 – London 1807), artist

Related items

Place of origin
Materials Canvas (10021)
Oil paint (8279)
Category Paintings (12624)
Collection Petworth House and Park, West Sussex (Accredited Museum) (1864)
Periods 18th century (85299)
Maker John Opie, RA (St Agnes 1761 – London 1807) (37)
Subjects Literature (111)
Thomson (19)
Object Type Oil painting (11759)

Record Status

Enhanced

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