John Collier: Lady Godiva (1897)

(Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, UK)

Depicted here is Lady Godiva, the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. According to the story, Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry who were suffering from taxes , instituted by her husband. Godiva appealed several times to her husband to abolish the taxes but to no avail. In the end Leofric said he would grant her request if she would ride naked on a horse through the town. Godiva issued a proclamation that all people should stay indoors and shut their windows and rode naked through town. Only one person (known as 'peeping Tom') disobeyed the order and attempted to spy on the naked Godiva but he was stuck blind when Godiva passed. When Godiva returned to her husband, Leofric keeps his word and abolishes the oppressive taxation. Painting from 1897.

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