Oskar Kokoschka Loreley 1941–2

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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

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