Untitled (figure with cithara)


Eileen Agar (1899–1991)

Although this painting is untitled, there’s a likelihood that the “figure with cithara” depicted is Sappho and the face in the background is Agar herself. Despite being married to Joseph Bard, she began a relationship with Paul Nash during the period she was in Swanage. However, by 1937, their relationship had ended in friendly terms.

Paul Nash, Swanage Bay 1940

Like the sweet apple which reddens upon the topmost bough,
Atop on the topmost twig, — which the pluckers forgot, somehow, —
Forget it not, nay; but got it not, for none could get it till now.
Like the wild hyacinth flower which on the hills is found,
Which the passing feet of the shepherds for ever tear and wound,
Until the purple blossom is trodden in the ground.

–Sappho, “One Girl”

trans. Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Cithara poetica: IV. Ad melpomenen by Jan Novák