The Mirror of the Waters (Le Miroir des Eaux), 1895
The titles of de Glehn’s first exhibits in Paris suggest an engagement with symbolism, at least in terms of the literary and mythological subjects that tended to be favoured by the movement’s exponents. Hence, as well as a steady flow of portraits, he exhibited works called The Land of Legend (Le pays de la légende, 1894), A Wave (Une vague, 1894), The Mirror of the Waters (Le miroir des eaux, 1895) and The Song of the Sirens (Le chant des sirènes, 1895).
Although de Glehn’s first exhibited work in London was at the New English Art Club in 1894, from 1897 until at least 1902 the venue at which Wilfrid exhibited the greatest number of works was the New Gallery, Regent Street. This was certainly the venue in London most concerned to promote symbolist tendencies within European Art. As a gallery it was particularly associated in the public imagination with the work of Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones and with George Frederick Watts although Sargent exhibited there not infrequently too. The existence of a number of works by de Glehn, in sanguine and in oil paint, based on G. F. Watts’s painting Endymion is clear evidence of Wilfrid’s admiration for the veteran artist’s work. But it was the influence of Moreau that was most visible in the painting de Glehn exhibited at the New Gallery Summer Show of 1897. In The Coming of Night a beautiful girl with auburn hair, based on a portrait of his sister, Rachel, represents the figure of sleep as she appears in the poem printed in the accompanying catalogue.
The Coming of Night, c. 1897
Study for ‘The Coming of Night’:
Portrait of Rachel de Glehn at 15, c. 1897