John William WaterhouseSaint Eulalia exhibited 1885

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Artwork details

John William Waterhouse (1849‑1917)
Saint Eulalia
Date exhibited 1885
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 1886 x 1175 mm frame: 2310 x 1610 x 180 mm
Acquisition Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1840


Waterhouse exhibited this picture at the Royal Academy in 1885 with the following note: 'Prudentius says that the body of St. Eulalia was shrouded "by the miraculous fall of snow when lying in the forum after her martyrdom."'

St Eulalia was martyred in 304AD for refusing to make sacrifices to the Roman gods. The method of her death was particularly gruesome: two executioners tore her body with iron hooks, then lighted torches were applied to her breasts and sides until finally, as the fire caught her hair, she was suffocated. Given the horrific circumstances of her death, and Eulalia's tender age (she is said to have been twelve years old), Waterhouse demonstrates little concern for realism. The setting for the picture is supposed to be Merida in Spain, which was then under the rule of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, but has been transferred to the Forum in Rome… (read more)

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