Oskar Kokoschka
Loreley 1941–2

Artwork details

Artist
Oskar Kokoschka 1886–1980
Title
Loreley
Date 1941–2
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 635 x 762 mm
frame: 765 x 892 x 65 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by Mrs Olda Kokoschka, the artist's widow, in honour of the directorship of Sir Alan Bowness 1988
Reference
T05486
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