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Q: A Painting of a young lady in a dark forest ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: A Painting of a young lady in a dark forest
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Visual Arts
Asked by: heckler-ga
List Price: $24.00
Posted: 01 Jul 2002 01:54 PDT
Expires: 31 Jul 2002 01:54 PDT
Question ID: 35397
When I was a small tike (before 1985) my parents had a painting at the
end of the hallway. They have since taken it down, and have been
unable to confirm it's existance let alone figure out what happened to

I'd like to find out, if possible, what it is called and who painted
it. Ultimately I'd like to know where prints could be purchased and/or
be able to see a copy on line.. though if my descriptions prove
inadequate than any leads would be appreciated.  My memories of this
peice are twenty years old, and I'm only twenty-five, so we've little
to go on and some of my "memories" may certainly be proven

The painting featured a young lady, wearing some sort of dress or
another. My grandfather speculates that she may have been a
ballerina.. though I don't think the execution or setting matches
anything I've seen of Degas' work, so she may well not be a ballerina.

It is certain she wasn't dancing. She is in a dark forest (not a sunny
meadow at any rate) and sitting down: either on some sort of chair or
stump, or on the ground with her back to a tree trunk. I'm pretty sure
her countenance is downcast and facing to the viewers right.

The picture is taller than it is wide. Somewhere between 1:1.2 and
1:1.8 I think. The lady is in the foreground, perhaps centered a bit

I also noticed a mustard-colored blotch in the extreme upper-right of
the painting. Save looking a lot like a blop of paint, it was shaped
vaguely like a simple (uneven) crown, or perhaps like the pupil of a
horse's eye. (I can recall the blotch more vividly than the rest of
the painting: I found it's presense disturbing for a bunch of reasons

I've also took the liberty of mocking up a bad police-sketch of what
the panting might look like today *wry*smile* which can be admired

Again this is my current best-guess of what I saw twenty years ago, so
I might end up being wrong about some elemnets.
In the sketch here, also, the blotch is exagerated in size 3-10x for

If anyone has any further questions or clarifications they'd like me
to answer, that's cool. You might even help jog me memory with the
right inquiries :)

- - Jesse Thompson

P.S.: the painting that wound up at the end of the hallway after this
one was removed was by a local artist (from central oregon) so there
is a chance that this was also the work of an oregonian or a central
The counterargument to that is that the subject matter is not of the
high desert or of praires :)  This lead is a flimsy one, but could
also help close the case, so I offer it ;)

Request for Question Clarification by huntsman-ga on 01 Jul 2002 22:39 PDT

Might it have been "Waiting" (1854), by the Pre-Raphaelite English
painter, Sir John Everett Millais? It seems to fit your general
description and sketch:

Olga's Gallery
Sir John Everett Millais - Waiting

One thing that may help spark your memory is to view the smaller
thumbnail on the gallery's home page:

Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896)

As can be seen from the other gallery examples, Millais' work has a
haunting emotional quality.


Request for Question Clarification by huntsman-ga on 01 Jul 2002 23:42 PDT

You should also try this:

1. Open Millais' "Waiting" and your sketch in separate browser

2. Within each window, position the images vertically so they're more
or less at the same height.

3. Switch back & forth between the two windows. It may also help to
squint slightly as you do this.

4. Note the following similarities between the two images:

- Overall layout and proportions.
- Tree trunks in background with open spaces between them.
- Girl in front of a larger rectangular form.
- Pose and eyeline of girl.
- Color of girl's dress.
- The yellow "W"-shaped blob in your sketch looks like the three large
yellowish rocks on top of the wall (to the right of Millais' girl).



Clarification of Question by heckler-ga on 01 Jul 2002 23:50 PDT
Dear Huntsman:
Good work, but it does not appear to be the peice that you've found..
but I have more details to provide.

In "Waiting", there is a large stone wall, and the ground is covered
in grass. In the target image, the ground is mostly duff I'm sure, and
the ground is level from below the POV on into the distance, save tree
roots and whatnot.

The girl in "Waiting" does something to show a deficiency in my
drawing :)  the girl in the target image is not wearing a bonnet, she
has long hair. No devices on her head save perhaps minimal ones (a
barette, a flower, might have escaped my memory). My drawing shows
roughly a bald head only because I knew I could not draw the hair
properly.. (my bad! :)

I've poked around a bit at John Everett Millais and at John William
Waterhouse and have come up with these examples which do something to
illustrate what I recall.

A more similar John Everett Millais work is Rosalind in the Forest,

The notable points in this peice are the waythe girl is sitting, and
the placement of the trees. This lady is sitting against a tree, with
her legs arranged the way I think the woman in the target image had
them. The tree she sits against is the major one in the image, and
other trees fall back into the background.
Contrasting, the lady in this image is slouched more than target. The
face of the lady in the target image is entirely not towards camera.
More like the other two images I'll refer to here: the viewer sees
mostly forehead or mostly cheek and neck due to her turning away or
facing downwards. The lady in the target image is also wearing a
dress, that I can report is lighter than either the garment found in
"Wainting" or in "rosalind", though with "rosalind" she shares that
the hem is around her knees, calves splayed about. I would venture
that the lady in target has a gracefully long neck.
About the scene, I think the tree roots were a touch less aparent in
target than in "Rosalind", and the aspect ratio was portrait, so you
could see a sight more trunk. Finally the forest in target was
impenetrable to the viewer, while in Rosalind the trees break after a
few dozen feet, and you see sky and wildlife. Just mentally carry the
treeline back beyond sight and close out the light a bit, and you'll
have a good approximation of target :)

In John William Waterhouse's work, I found these.

The Necklace
Here's a painting of a lady in a dark forest. She is looking down and
slightly to the right, as one possible target scenario: her face is
partly obscured by shadow, not looking directly towards the pov.
These are about the only similarities, but this image catches my eye
from thumbnail, for sure :)

Psyche Opening the Golden Box
Here we find a forest with good impenetrability, though a bit
colourless. Here we also find John Waterhouse's rendition of Psyche,
who is not far dissimilar from the woman in the target image.
Psyche's face is in profile, much like the target lady (though looking
in the opposite direction)
Psyche's hair and head are similar, though the target's hair is not in
a bun, I think. Psyche's dress is similar, though the targets dress
covers her shoulders and not her calves. The targets dress is likely
to have a pale color like psyche's, likely the same pinks even, but
also possibly more faded, and perhaps some pastel blues like in The
Necklace. The dress is also of similar "weight", I guess. Not
excepionally heavy, but perhaps a stitch heavier than this. (my
grandparent's hung it up, after all :)

All in all, It does look as though "classic" or "pre-raphealite" would
be the way to describe target image. I would not be at all suprised if
it turns out to be a John William Waterhouse work, although I've pored
over more than 150 of his works today with no closer matches than

I hope this information helps to narrow down the feild. I certainly
feel as though target must be cornered by now! :)  I think I would
like the image to be found, and if this carries on for a bit with no
results I'll probably up the price.

Thank you all for your cooperation thus far. This service has proved
hella more effective than hitting and searching for "forest"
and pressing "next page" until one's eyeballs fall out of one's
sockets :)

Clarification of Question by heckler-ga on 01 Jul 2002 23:59 PDT
Interesting note on the W shaped rocks! :)

No match though.

The blob shape is something I can speak to with much better clarity
than anything else in the picture :)

It is a blob for certain, definitely mustardish-yellowish color.
Bright on a background that should be all shadow. Hanging in the air,
if it were part of the image.
Also in the extreme upper right. roughly 1cm wide and .5cm tall, scant
centimeters from right side and from top.
Small enough not to be noticed in a thumbnail at all :(
I made it exageratively big in my drawing and mentioned that, it is
tiny in the actual image, I just found it exageratedly disturbing.
Unless it was a very bad corner-signature, it had no business there
and it bothered me in my youth. I'd speculated that it could have been
some people in a canoe in some far off, unseen river, but these
mustard people would have had to glare through some tree trunk to be
seen that far back :)  If my recognition skills at the time were that
far off, it could have been a bird's nest in the limb of a tree or

Just keep in mind that my drawing's glop is probably 10 times
exagerated in size. I think I should have made a separate image
"magnifying" the blop to have reduced confusion *doh*

If it will help, I'll come back with a comment and link to an image
with the blop to scale (and perhaps get some semblance of hair on the
poor lady :)

Clarification of Question by heckler-ga on 02 Jul 2002 01:17 PDT
... and to the woe of all humankind, Heckler colorizes his drawing ;)

This version of the ddrawing serves a few purposes.
It gives the lady hair :)
It pulls her up against the tree somewhat (She's still sitting against
the tree mind you, not kneeling nearby the tree! may Raphael himself
strike me down ;)
It lends approximate hues, oversaturations, but roughly the right
values to the image. In a real painting everything is pretty close to
gray.. when you sample it with an eyedropper. The actual colors are
much like "Rosalind in the Forest" but with less light showing in the
And finally, the blop is about the right scale, and perhaps even a
better shape (I fiddled with it, and knocking the left arm over a bit
did me quite a turn.. so I left it that way :)

I hope that helps out the search too. If not, I might have to give up
some day and bring this drawing that I keep clarifying to grandma, see
if it jogs *her* memory ;)

Request for Question Clarification by eiffel-ga on 02 Jul 2002 04:36 PDT
I realise you have said that it's unlikely to be a Maxfield Parrish
painting, but perhaps you could comment on this version of his "Dream
Light" image:

In particular, how do the odd mustard blobs in the top corners
(particularly those at the top-left) compare with the blob that you

How about Parrish's "Le Parfum":

There is a mustard patch in the tree form, although it's not so close
to the edge and doesn't seem so incongruous.

Request for Question Clarification by eiffel-ga on 02 Jul 2002 05:05 PDT
I keep coming back to "Le Parfum":

You said that "The Necklace" caught your eye from the thumbnail, and
the subject of "Le Parfum" adopts a similar posture (though facing the
other way and with her face more in profile, and showing more calf, as
you have specified).

Now focus on the sleeves of the two lower elves. Suppose you hadn't
realised (at the age of five) that these were elves. The sleeves then
seem to form a blob very similar in shape to that depicted in your
sketches (although lower down, admittedly). The blob does then seem
incongruous, as if it is "glaring through the tree trunk".

Request for Question Clarification by eiffel-ga on 02 Jul 2002 05:34 PDT
...and what about the elbow of the upper elf in "Le Parfum"?

If you didn't realise it was attached to an elf, that mustard-white
shape would seem weird and incongruous, floating in the air and
shining through the tree trunks.

Clarification of Question by heckler-ga on 02 Jul 2002 23:22 PDT
Well, we're getting so close now that I'm hsitating before saying "no"
In "Le Parfum", there are little leaves in front of the camera,
blocking some objects. Everybody is sitting on rocks. These elements,
in this image, are fully acceptable :)  The target image may vary from
my prototype that much without suprising me at all. Incredible :)

But still, I maintain only the fewest differences now. I'm pretty sure
there was no other animal life of any sort nearby the blotch in the
target image. Even if I could have not perceived the elf holding ther
perfume bottle in this image when I was 4, I would have noticed at
least some of the elves and remember them, so I've got to say nay to
that. I'll also continue to maintain that the blotch was closer to the
top, and the girl much farther away from the top. Smaller in the
image, though probably (not definately) older than this girl. The face
is right on by the way, as is the dress, calf exposure. The devices in
the hair are fully acceptable, but the target's torso is probably
bigger (again, not definately).

The impenetrability of this forest quickly approximates that of
target, but you can see some light filtering through from afar. Target
image is definitely impenetrable: going back into the picture
certainly gets darker (with deepening greends and browns).

Additionally, I think I can say that the Target forest is evergreen.
The limbs in the neighborhood of the blotch contained nettles, not
leaves. I should have thought of that before :)  I guess that
assertion strengthens the idea that the ground is relatively even
duff, similar to Rosalind in the Forest, but obviously not as well

I think that "Rosalind in the Forest" and "Le Parfum" are each just
about as near the bullseye as my drawing in their own ways, and should
be looked upon as things to compare to for certain.

I knew we had to have it cornered :)  Now the only question is if
someone will find an incorrect image so similar that they trick me
into giving up. I haven't done this sort of thing before, so I'll be
disapointed if my description is completely usurped before the image
is found for certain. I'm raising the reward to, and I'll keep raising
it every now and then as this carries on so that you good folks won't
give up on poor meh :)

Thank you all!

Request for Question Clarification by eiffel-ga on 02 Jul 2002 23:55 PDT

You might want to show "Le Parfum" and "Rosalind in the Forest" to
your grandparents, in case that elicits some further information from

Also, in an attempt to extract some more clues, can you tell us the
physical details of the picture.

Was it a paper poster or a high quality art print? Was it framed, and
if so was it in a "serious art type" frame or something more casual?
Is the location at the end of a "formal" hallway that would have
justified something expensive, or was it a "family nook" that might
have contained something picked up at the local school fair?

How long might it have been there? For example, had you just moved to
that house or had your grandparents decorated it when they were young?
Did it look faded or fresh?

Are there any neighbors or family friends who may be able to offer
some more clues?

Might it have been taken down because it was damaged by young
children, or was it probably replaced because your parents found an
image they liked better?

And finally, are there long-forgotten nooks (such as in the attic)
where the picture may still lie, covered up rolled up or folded up and

Request for Question Clarification by eiffel-ga on 03 Jul 2002 04:51 PDT
Have a look at the mustard-colored blotch in the extreme upper-right
of Maxfield Parrish's "Ecstasy":

Is that the same as the mustard blotch on your painting? If so, we
have the artist.

The blotch is presumably Parrish's initials (FMP), but it could
possibly be AWF as Parrish painted several pictures for the Artists'
War Fund.

Clarification of Question by heckler-ga on 04 Jul 2002 01:33 PDT
criminy, eiffel!

I concur wholeheartedly with your last post.

This blotch is not exactly congruent in shape with what I recall, but
memory could be to blame for that and/or his blotches could be
slightly different shapes in different works. One thing for certain,
it's placement, size, and look are absolutely bullseye!

I now concede to you and seedy that Maxwell Parrish must be the target
artist :)  (seedy even showed me that picture, but only on a page that
had it in thumbnail. Forgive my impudence!)

So here is what I shall do, oh Private Eiffel :)

Whichever sounds easiest to you, either stumble across what looks like
the target image (it should fully have that blob, so it's not Le
Parfum) or just provide a few examples of sites to look through (I can
carry on the effort and just scan through all his known works manually
;), and/or people to contact for print information (who I can bother
with further questions ;) and enter such data as the answer (or
however that works?) and I'll push the big green button!


Clarification of Question by heckler-ga on 04 Jul 2002 01:55 PDT
I'm browsing every source that I know of to cross reference an
artist's work, and every copy of ecstacy I'm seeing does not have a
blotch. (save the one you pointed out)

So I'm guessing that there is a fairly good chance, that my target
image, is a copy of Le Parfum *with* an awf signature.  (as long as
the elves were not nearby the blotch, I'll buy having forgotten them

This probability existing, I'm going to print off that copy of ecstacy
and a copy of le parfum and see what the folks have to say at my
earliest convenience.

So, I'll accept from you as an answer, either a copy of le parfum with
a blotch, a different work which disproves this hypothosis, or contact
information for someone who sells prints and/or anyone who would know
enough about parrish to set me straight :)

Thank you again!
Subject: Re: A Painting of a young lady in a dark forest
Answered By: eiffel-ga on 05 Jul 2002 10:24 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi heckler,

Here is a summary of our discussion above, and details of some Maxwell
Parrish resources as you requested.

An example of a mustard blotch like the one that you recall is found
in the extreme top right corner of Maxfield Parrish's "Ecstasy":

CGFA Virtual Art Museum:

The mustard blotch is presumably the signature or initials of the

Of the Maxfield Parrish pictures that I have found, "Le Parfum" is by
far the closest match to your description:

The Ancient Tempest Art Gallery:

If your painting was a copy of "Le Parfum" with a signature present in
the top corner, the signature would be placed over the darkest tree
limb. I can easily see how the signature could have taken on the
haunting appearance that you describe.

I have examined every image of "Le Parfum" that I can find on the
internet, and none bears an obvious signature. But, as you point out,
only one image of "Ecstasy" bears the signature so it's quite possible
that only some copies of "Le Parfum" were signed.

Parrish painted "Le Parfum" in 1917, and a similar image was also used
as part of an advertisement for Djer Kiss Perfume in 1918:

There are many businesses that sell Parrish posters, including Barnes
& Noble:

The following businesses specialize in Parrish, and sell Parrish
originals. They all invite questions by email:

Art Vintage Ltd:


The Parrish House:

Additional links:

Maxfield Parrish Biography:

Maxfield Parrish - A Brief Biography

Other Maxfield Parrish paintings with some similarity to your

The Enchanted Prince (CGFA Virtual Art Museum):

Golden Hours (CGFA Virtual Art Museum):

Google searches used:

"maxfield parrish" links

"maxfield parrish" "largest collection"

"maxfield parrish" forest

Google Image searches used:

"maxfield parrish"

parrish "le parfum"

parrish ecstasy

I hope you find this information useful. I've certainly enjoyed
researching your question.

heckler-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
This service rawx! :)
Researcher Eiffel was able to lay down the law so far as looking for
something I haven't seen in roughly twenty years, and could only
provide atrocious descriptions of :)
He didn't find the exact print beyond a shadow of a doubt, but that's
only because I relieved him after he did the impossibly hard part of
the work :)  He discovered who the artist is (the evidence satisfies
me completely) and gave me leads where I can run the last leg myself.
This soujern was worth every last copperhead :)

Subject: Re: A Painting of a young lady in a dark forest
From: seedy-ga on 01 Jul 2002 06:28 PDT
Maxfield Parrish painted many pictures in the style you have described
although I can't indentify any particular one from your sketch. You
can check out some of his work at:
Does Parrish's poster style look familiar??

Subject: Re: A Painting of a young lady in a dark forest
From: psygnostic-ga on 01 Jul 2002 11:00 PDT
Depending on the style (which wasn't exactly clear in your drawing :))
you may be looking for  a John William Waterhouse painting.  His work
is available in prints at many online retailers.  His work tends to be
a little dark and a little enchanted.  I've included a URL of a page
that has many very representative works that he's done.  Best luck
reconstructing your childhood!
Subject: Re: A Painting of a young lady in a dark forest
From: heckler-ga on 01 Jul 2002 21:32 PDT
psygnostic's suggestion of John William Waterhouse puts us in the
right arena :)
his "La Belle Dame Sans Merci",
looks pretty similar.. save that there is this knight fellow hanging
about and the trees behind aren't quite impenetrable.
John Waterhouse seems to bring fine quality to the foreground
characters and leaves the background fuzzy, but I stared at the target
image's background for long enough to report it is just as clear as
the forground. Less clear, I think, than the foreground of La Belle
but more clear than the background. I think the principal colors were
green and deep brown in the forest (very thick forest, this :) and the
ladies dress had faint pink colors (faded, or pastel, or both)

I think seedy's Maxfield Parrish is a bit to lighthearted to have done
the work I have in mind. You definately get the feeling of being in a
thick forest with a canopy. No rivers in sight, lots of springy duff,
and the forest trees fade into black in the distance.

I haven't quite gotten through all of John Waterhouse's work yet, so I
might have more to report later. :)
Subject: Re: A Painting of a young lady in a dark forest
From: eiffel-ga on 05 Jul 2002 10:23 PDT
Hi heckler,

I'm glad we're approaching closure on your question. I'll post an
answer including the details that you asked for in your clarification
of 4 July 01:55.

Incidentally, I think the blob must be the artist's initials (MP or
FMP) rather than the acronym AWF, because "Le Parfum" was painted in
1917, and the Artists' War Fund operated during the Boer War more than
15 years earlier.
Subject: Re: A Painting of a young lady in a dark forest
From: aceresearcher-ga on 22 May 2003 01:41 PDT
Archived copy of "Le Parfum" image is here:

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