Bronze edition of 9
Half life size
Portland stone plinth
Clytie is a water nymph from Greek mythology that has been depicted to represent lost love partially in the Renaissance and Victorian period. Helios, having loved her, abandoned her for another and left Clytie deserted. She intended to win Helios back but her actions only hardened his heart against her. She sat naked, with neither food nor drink, for nine days on the rocks, staring at Helios travelling across the sky, pining. After nine days she had taken root and was transformed into a flower which turns its head always to look longingly at Helios' chariot of the sun. The episode is most fully told in Ovid, Metamorphoses
“She wasted away, deranged by her experience of love. Impatient of the nymphs, night and day, under the open sky, she sat dishevelled, bareheaded, on the bare earth. Without food or water, fasting, for nine days, she lived only on dew and tears, and did not stir from the ground. She only gazed at the god’s aspect as he passed, and turned her face towards him. They say that her limbs clung to the soil, and that her ghastly pallor changed part of her appearance to that of a bloodless plant: but part was reddened, and a flower hid her face. She turns, always, towards the sun; though her roots hold her fast, her love remains unaltered” [Ovid, Metamorphoses IV:256-273, trans. A S Kline]
Clytie’s forlorn expression and pose is influenced by the drama found in classical sculptures, her smooth features similar to that of carved marble. This smoothness emphasises her youth and beauty at the beginning of her metamorphosis into a flower. By choosing a bright and graduated patina this moves the piece into contemporary company.