The Garden of Eden

COL; (c) William Riviere (The Garden of Eden); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Hugh Goldwin Riviere (1869 – 1956) – The Garden of Eden (1901)

This picture is exposed in Guildhall Art Gallery, and has become since I’ve seen it, one of my favourite paintings.

A young couple walks hand in hand, in a rainy winter day in London. We cannot see his face, only his tall athletic figure, his chesnut hair under his hat and his beautiful manly hands. The young woman flushes shyly while she looks with adoration the man beside her. I stood for long minutes in front of this picture; I couldn’t take my eyes out of their hands, while I was invaded by a sensation of melancholy. I cannot help but wondering about their story. Maybe the man has not a face because he lived longer in her memories than on this earth. The year was 1901; maybe fifteen years later he will recall that very afternoon when he walked with his love hand in hand. He will tell her about this memory in a letter written under cover in a trench full of mud, soaked to the bones. He will tell her in that letter that he remembered her bright pale face shining in the colourless afternoon, that day when life seemed something easy, full of promises and hopes. Perhaps he will tell her, in a letter that she will never receive, that the only way not to loose completely his mind in that dirty hole in Belgium is to grasp to her memory as they hold hands in a rainy afternoon.

The Guildhall Art Gallery was destroyed during an air raid on May 10th 1941; most of the paintings were saved, hidden in an underground storage in Whiltshire, but many works of art were lost. In 1988, during the works for the new Art building project, were discovered the foundations of the Roman Amphitheatre. Rebirth from destruction.

IMG_3725
What the English can do with the foundations of their Roman amphitheatre. Our pic.

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5 thoughts on “The Garden of Eden

  1. I didn’t know about this painter, or this picture! Her face, and the hands, say it all. Very poignant, especially the title.
    I totally missed the Roman amphitheater when I was there!! Arrrgh! Just one more reason to go back 🙂

    1. Indeed I think that the title foretells the destiny of the two lovers. By the way, a friend of mine noticed the striking similitude of the woman with Kate Winslett. 🙂
      I went to Guildhall Gallery for the amphitheatre, to find there so many works of the pre-raphaelites and Victorian painters!
      There’re so many places to visit in London, as in Rome, Paris or Madrid…

      1. We’ve seen several Waterhouse in Tate Britain also. His famous Lady of Shalott, for instance. But I was much impressed by the Saint Eulalia, that I had not seen before.

        One of my favourite painter of the period is Alma Tadema. I’ve liked so much the Pyrrhic Dance

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