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'The Return from Cythera' is the second of Allen's two versions of this subject. The work depicts a picnic at the moment when, as day draws to a close, the group of friends realise that they must return home. The picture is set in the Oxfordshire countryside which Allen loved and where he lived. But in the distance is the image of the cooling towers of the power station at Didcot, which Allen disliked. The figures are thus caught between an imaginative, pastoral idyll and the problems of the modern industrial world. The title and some of the work's imagery were inspired by Watteau but the painting was intended more as a tribute to Titian.

September 2004