Charles Wellington Furse

Diana of the Uplands


In Tate Britain

Charles Wellington Furse 1868–1904
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 2369 × 1791 mm
frame: 2910 × 2218 × 195 mm
Purchased 1906

Display caption

Furse presents Diana, goddess of the hunt, in a contemporary setting. The model was his wife Katharine, and she carved the elaborate frame. She recalled ‘Charles had the design of the wind-blown figure in his mind... He was very anxious to see the whole effect, so I dressed up and my stepmother-in-law Gertrude was brought in to help the wind’. Katharine Furse was later Director of the Women’s Royal Naval Service. The painting was very popular when it was first exhibited, and was used in many advertisements at the time.

Gallery label, October 2020

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Catalogue entry

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 93 1/4×70 1/2 (237×179).
Purchased from the artist's widow (Clarke Fund) 1906.
Exh: R.A., 1904 (222); Venice Biennale, 1905 (Room XII, 14); lent to the Tate Gallery from 1905 by Dame Katharine Furse; B.F.A.C., 1906 (26).
Lit: Furse, 1940, p.250.
Repr: Royal Academy Pictures, 1904, p.16; Tate Gallery Illustrations, 1928, pl.87; J. B. Manson, The Tate Gallery, 1929, pl.21 (in colour).

A portrait of the artist's wife, painted in 1903–4. A sketch for the picture was exhibited at the B.F.A.C., 1906 (12). Dame Katharine Furse, G.B.E., R.R.C., 1875–1952, was the daughter of John Addington Symonds and spent much of her childhood in the Alps and in Italy. She learned wood carving and carved some of the frames for her husband's pictures. She married the artist in 1900. During the 1914–18 war she organized the V.A.D. and later the W.R.N.S. From 1928 to 1938 she was the Director of the World Bureau of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Author of Hearts and Pomegranates, 1940, an autobiography.

She wrote (loc. cit.) that the picture was painted at their home in Yockley, but as she had a tendency to faint she did not pose much: ‘Charles had the design of the windblown figure in his mind and knew exactly what he wished to produce. But there came a moment when he was very anxious to see the whole effect, so I dressed up and my stepmother-in-law Gertrude was brought in to try the bellows under the skirt, which was tied up to a support to help the “wind”. We hired two greyhounds for the picture a white and a black and when he wanted a piebald, Charles made a combinazione of the two.’ She adds that the composition was used in a great many advertisements at the time and even in a political cartoon by F. C. Gould, published in the Westminster Gazette, showing Arthur Balfour as Diana and Joseph and Austen Chamberlain as the dogs. She carved the frame for ‘Diana’ and describes (p.216) how, through an error of measurement, it was made too small and had to be enlarged, and how disappointed she was when he covered the gilding with brown medium in order to tone it down.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I


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