Phyllis and Demophoön

Phyllis and Demophoön

Date created: 1907

Greek legends tell how Phyllis, queen of Thrace, fell in love with Demophoon, king of Melos, the son of Theseus and Phaedra, who visits her court en route for Athens after the Trojan War, where he had hidden inside the legendary Trojan Horse. He left the court, but when he failed to keep his promise to return within a month, she committed suicide, whereupon Athena, taking pity on her, turned her into an almond tree. Eventually, Demophoon returned to Thrace and, discovering what had happened, embraced the tree, which immediately burst into blossom.

Contemporary Commentary

We step into another world when we follow the classic brush of Mr J. W. Waterhouse, R.A. This accomplished artist exhibits three pictures, wonderful symphonies of colour, and exquisite in their technical execution.

Phyllis and Deomphoon belongs to the days primeval, when shepherds piped, and fauns and folk o' that ilk peopled the happy woods. Here the grey tree has split, and the dryad, her slender limbs enfolded in drapery of faint blue, bends out of the hollow trunk towards the herdsman, transfixed with wonder at the vision. Purple crocuses bloom in the grass on which he kneels: a narrow blue stream meanders through the formal landscape.

- from 'Some Pictures at the Royal Academy', The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, May 17th 1907.