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Perugini, Charles Edward (British, b.1839, d.1918)
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
oil on canvas
1078 x 612 mm stretcher size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1892 by Mr George Gray Russell.
Carlo Eduardo Perugini, whose first names are often anglicised to Charles Edward, was born in Naples and moved to London with his family while he was still young. He studied art at Ary Scheffer’s studio in Paris, where he met the English painter and sculptor, Frederic Leighton. Accompanied by Leighton, Perugini moved back to England in the late 1850s and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1863. Through Leighton’s social connections, Perugini became popular with many wealthy British patrons, and his largely Neoclassically inspired work received favourable comments from the critics. He married the portrait painter Kate Collins, daughter of Charles Dickens, not long after her first husband died in 1873.
In this oil painting, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, a young girl in Regency costume is blowing on a dandelion, which, along with the title, is enough for the viewer to recognise the game the girl is playing. The fresh smooth delicacy of her skin is juxtaposed with the ruched fabric of her bonnet and Empire neckline, and Perugini celebrates the minute detail in the gown and the sheen of the textiles. The romantic landscape, with its dark woods, is symbolic of the mystery of love.

on view in the exhibition

Hurahia ana kā Whetū : Unveiling the Stars
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