Edward Poynter was second only to Frederic Leighton as an exponent of Victorian neo-classicism. His training as an artist took place partly in Europe; he coincided with Leighton in Rome in 1853 and spent the years 1856-59 as a student at Gleyre's atelier in Paris. These semi-bohemian years were described by Poynter's comrade George du Maurier in his novel Trilby. In 1860 Poynter commenced upon a career in London which was to bring him much prestige and many honours. His great Royal Academy exhibition successes were mainly reconstructions of events or situations set in ancient history, attempts to give a visual account of the appearance of the Ancient World. The most famous of these are Israel in Egypt and The Catapult. A parallel group were his mythological subjects, In both types Poynter took great trouble to make the details of the paintings as archaeologically accurate as possible. Despite being only a few years younger than the generation of High Victorian artists Poynter long outlived his great contemporaries. He succeeded Millais as President of the Royal Academy in 1896 and then lived on into a very different age when his-most celebrated paintings were no longer appreciated or understood.
Newall, Christopher. A Celebration of British and European Painting of the 19th and 20th Centuries. London: Peter Nahum, nd.
Wood, Christopher. Olympian Dreamers: Victorian Classical Painters. London: Constable, 1983. 131-53.
Last modified 23 April 2011