Charles Sims

The Wood beyond the World


Not on display

Charles Sims 1873–1928
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1016 × 1441 mm
frame: 1140 × 1565 × 70 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1913

Display caption

The Wood beyond the World represents an idyllic scene celebrating the springtide and optimism of life. It is reminiscent of both Botticelli’s Primavera 1478 and allegories by the French Symbolist painter Puvis de Chavannes.

The chastity of youth is suggested by the nudity of the dancing children and reinforced by the allusions to pagan and Christian traditions. The group of three female figures on the left are posed as the three Graces from classical mythology, while the central woman holding a child is presented in the dress and attitude of a Madonna.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘Sims’ b.r.
Canvas, 40×56 3/4 (101·5×144).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1913.
Exh: R.A., 1913 (5); R.A., Late Members, winter 1933 (453).
Lit: Sims, 1934, pp.81–2, 115–16.
Repr: Studio, LIX, June 1913, p.29.

In a note (op. cit., pp.115–16) for 14 February 1913 the artist wrote in his studio journal that ‘“The Wood beyond the World” could have been drawn more carefully and carried further in tempera, with a saving of time and some advantage to the form.’

Like many of his paintings ‘The Wood beyond the World’ represents an idyllic, timeless scene and there are allusions to pagan and religious themes through the inclusion of three female figures grouped in the traditional Three Graces pose, and in the foreground, a mother and child in the attire and pose of a Madonna.

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

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