Dame Ethel Walker


?exhibited 1916

Not on display

Dame Ethel Walker 1861–1951
Watercolour and graphite on paper
Support: 508 × 324 mm
frame: 645 × 455 × 22 mm
Bequeathed by Miss Grace English 1957

Catalogue entry

T00131 LILITH c. 1916

Not inscribed.
Pencil and watercolour, 20×12 3/4 (51×32·5).
Bequeathed by Miss Grace English 1957.
Coll: Purchased by Miss English from the artist.
Exh: (?) N.E.A.C., summer 1916 (202), as ‘Study for Decoration - the wooing of Lilith’.

This drawing corresponds to the left-hand portion of ‘Lilith’, a large decorative work in the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen at Rotterdam. The oil painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy, Exhibition of Decorative Art, winter 1923 (37) and again at Wildenstein's, November–December 1936 (1), together with ‘Decoration: Eve: The Temptation’ (22). In 1945 ‘Lilith’ was in the Royal Academy (657) and later passed to Mevr. de Graaff, who bequeathed it to the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in 1949.

According to the Jewish Encyclopaedia, VIII, 1904, pp.87–8, Lilith is one of the Assyrian female demons known variously as Symmachas, Lamia and Lilit. She is said to have been worshipped by the Jewish exiles in Babylon and has been described both as a goddess of the night and as a demon of the storm. The tradition that she was Adam's first wife appears to have been spread by Buxtorf in his Lexicon Talmudicum (2nd ed., Basle, 1640). In the Ethel Walker drawing Lilith is personified as a seductive woman, and there is an allusion to her successor, Eve, by the inclusion of a serpent coiled around the branches of the tree behind her.

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

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