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John Collier - Priestess of Delphi

Priestess of Delphi

The priestess of the oracle at ancient Delphi, Greece. (1891)

John Collier (1850–1934)

In the painting, “Priestess of Delphi” by The Honorable John Collier, a priestess – the Pythia – is depicted in a trance state, seated over a fissure in the rock through which vapors rise from the underground stream. In her left hand is a sprig of laurel – in Greek mythology, Apollo’s sacred tree – and in the other hand a bowl meant to hold some of the water from the stream containing the gases.British artist and writer John Maler Collier (1850-1934) was born in London and painted in the Classicist and Pre-Raphaelite styles. He studied under Sir Edward Poynter in Paris and was influenced by the work of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Sir John Everett Millais. During his lifetime he was named an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) – granting him the title “Honorable” – and was one of the 24 founding members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters established in 1891.