Oskar Kokoschka
Loreley 1941–2

Artwork details

Oskar Kokoschka 1886–1980
Date 1941–2
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 635 x 762 mm
frame: 765 x 892 x 65 mm
Acquisition Presented by Mrs Olda Kokoschka, the artist's widow, in honour of the directorship of Sir Alan Bowness 1988
Not on display

Display caption

The title Loreley refers to a mythical Rhine maiden, who lured sailors to their death. Kokoschka explained that his painting mocks British claims to maritime supremacy: ‘Britannia no longer rules the waves; inaction has lasted too long; an octopus swims away with a trident, the emblem of marine power. Queen Victoria, who built up the British fleet into a dominant position, rides a shark and stuffs white, brown and black sailors into its mouth. Only the frog on her hand refuses to accept the same fate: it represents Ireland, where there are no reptiles except frogs’.

July 2008