An exhibition of world renowned painter André Durand’s Diana Dorset Allegories will take place at Sherborne’s Grain Gallery, from 30 June – 25 August 2018.

The initial launch will showcase two paintings, depicting Diana, Princess of Wales as the Greco-Roman goddess Artemis/Diana, after whom she was named, by André Durand. The allegories, painted in the church of St James the Great, Longburton in July 2017, capture the un-spoilt beauty of the Dorset countryside with the unique, underlying ancient folklore that the county has at the roots of its history.

Internationally acclaimed artist, André Durand, was drawn to visit the area last summer by reading about the unique crop circle at Cerne Abbas. Travelling the world, based now predominantly in Rome, he has rarely visited the British countryside. Yet elemental forces from the landscape inspired Durand to create an entrancing series of esoteric, mythological interpretations of Diana, further evoked by the Cerne Abbas Giant and its ancient alignment with then constellation Orion, together with the mysterious presence of the Cerne Abbas crop circle figure.

A discussion with friend and sculptor, Ian Rank-Broadley, recently commissioned by the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex to sculpt a statue of their mother, led to Durand’s decision to use The Diana of Versailles as the basis for the work. Durand has drawn and painted The Diana of Versailles since his student years, however, it was only in 2003 that he was struck by the similarities between the statue and Diana, Princess of Wales, who had been the artist’s neighbour during the many years he lived in Kensington, London.

Durand says: “Painting at sunrise in the church of Saint James the Great in Longburton, Dorset, I began to block in roughly a new allegory. By mid-morning the composition was delineated and I began to develop the central, almost life-sized figure of Diana, goddess of the hunt, based on The Diana of Versailles, a slightly over life-size marble statue of the Greek goddess, Diana, with a small deer, in the Musée du Louvre. Mesmerised, brush in hand, I thought I will do more than justice to Princess Diana, if in painting, I can do justice to The Diana of Versailles, who was thought so realistic that she had to be firmly fixed to her pedestal to stop her from racing off.”

The allegories were started in July 2017, but completed recently at The Grain Gallery, where Durand is currently artist in residence.

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