Fiametta

Francis Derwent Wood, R.A. (1871-1926)

c. 1914

Plaster, bronzed

Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, Wirral, Merseyside

The upturned face of this young woman conveys an air of composure and nobility, yet there is still a certain poignancy about it. These subtle layers of feeling are beautifully reflected in the colour variations of the materials used. Probably Wood had been inspired by a recent biography of Boccaccio by Edward Hutton. This gives the poet's own account of his first meeting with Maria d'Aquino, the woman he loved, and on whom he apparently based Fiammetta, a character who often appears in his work. She was tall and blonde-haired, with "a white forehead of noble width, beneath which are the curves of two black and slender eyebrows" — she had "shining eyes" and a "mouth like a rose in a field of lilies" as well (trans. Hutton 28-9).

Photograph, caption, and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2009.

Background digitally removed by Ruth M. Landow

[Courtesy of the Lady Lever Art Gallery]