Harry Holland



In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Harry Holland born 1941
Lithograph on paper
Image: 136 × 115 mm
Purchased 1983

Catalogue entry

P07806 Lovers 1982

Lithograph 5 3/8 × 4 1/2 (136 × 115) on paper 15 × 11 3/8 (382 × 290) watermarked ‘Somerset England’, printed by Nick Hunter and published by Garton & Cooke
Inscribed ‘W.H. Holland’ b.r. and ‘6/30’
Purchased from Robin Garton (Grant-in-Aid) 1983

The following entry is based on information supplied by the artist in a letter dated 21 April 1986. It has been approved by the artist.

Holland has explained that ‘The image originally derives from a subject which I reworked called “Roman Charity” a fairly common theme in the nineteenth century.’ ‘Roman Charity’ refers to the story of Cimon and Pero which was extensively interpreted by artists of the 16th to 18th centuries, most notably by Rubens and Caravaggio. It appears to derive originally from Valerius Maximus who, in his Factorum ac dictorum memorabilium libriIX, under the heading ‘De pietate in parentes’ (5:4) tells how the aged Cimon, a prisoner awaiting execution and therefore being starved, was visited in his cell by Pero, his daughter, who nourished him by offering him her breast. Baroque examples often emphasised the sexual aspect of the subject and the title of the present work alludes to the fact that Holland also has developed the image beyond its original status as an icon of filial piety. Instead, the artist has used a situation deriving from the literature of antiquity as a framework in which to consider the complexity of human relations and the conviction expressed is that sensuality and sexuality are pre-eminent in this.

Although the artist made some preliminary studies for this work which are still in his possession, it was executed mainly from memory. Holland has not made any other prints on a similar theme but ‘Lovers’ is related to a painting of the same name and similar design which is now in Belgium.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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