Introducing Clytie

Clytie is one of the last major statements of High Victorian art. Left unfinished at the time of Leighton’s death, it was placed on an easel in his studio at the head of his coffin and then exhibited to commemorate the artist at the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition of 1896.

The painting depicts the nymph Clytie, who having been abandoned by her lover, the sun god Apollo, spends her days heartbroken, watching him ride his fiery chariot across the sky. Ultimately she becomes rooted to the ground and is transformed into a flower; forever following the sun’s course.

The model for Clytie was Dorothy Dene, Leighton’s great muse and model for the last sixteen years of his life.  He painted a different version of the same subject in 1892 and it clearly had particular significance for him at this point in his life. 

Since 1896 it had been in private hands, including a long period in the collection of the Indian cricketer, Prince Ranjitsinhji. Clytie now hangs again in the studio in which it was painted.

Learn more about Leighton’s last great painting:

Catalogue details and suggestions for further reading are provided here

Download the full story of the painting with supporting images

Clytie in Context: Listen to a series of free talks

Leighton and Clytie, artist in residence progamme is here


Open daily except Tuesday
10am - 5.30pm
12 Holland Park Road
London W14 8LZ
email: museums@rbkc.gov.uk