Jealousy and Flirtation

Oil Painting
1874 (painted)
Jealousy and Flirtation thumbnail 1
Jealousy and Flirtation thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Place Of Origin

Oil painting

object details
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
oil on canvas
Brief Description
Oil painting, 'Jealousy and Flirtation', Haynes King, 1874
Physical Description
Oil painting
  • Estimate height: 28.125in
  • Estimate width: 36.125in
  • Framed height: 90cm
  • Framed width: 120cm
Marks and Inscriptions
'H King 1874' (Signed and dated by the artist)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Joshua Dixon
Object history
Bequeathed by Joshua Dixon, 1886

Historical significance: The genre and landscape painter Haynes King (1831-1904) was born in Barbados. He travelled to London in 1854 and studied at Leigh's Academy, a well-known art school. He began to exhibit paintings at the Society of British Artists in 1857, and was elected a member in 1864. He exhibited 48 works at the Royal Academy between 1860 and 1904.

King was renowned in his day for his paintings of cottage interiors in which human dramas are enacted, dramas that may seem trivial to us, but of are of crucial importance to the participants. He makes his narrative crystal-clear, underlining his meaning with his chosen title. In 1874, the date of Jealousy and Flirtation, his work must have seemed somewhat old-fashioned - genre scenes like this had been popular since the early 19th century - although King compensates for this by his 'modern', more 'free', handling of paint. A closer look at this painting poses some diverting problems. Are the two women sisters? Some of the objects around the room help to tell the story. Is the small painting hanging on the wall over the fireplace a portrait of their father, looking disapprovingly at what is going on? The 'jealous' woman on the left, dressed more modestly than the other, leans against a table on which are placed two books, the family Bible and prayer-book; whereas the 'flirtatious' woman has tossed her knitting on the floor. An audience of 1874, with a standard classical education, may well have read the scene in classical terms, as a modern interpretation of 'Hercules at the crossroads', dramatising the choice between virtue and vice, earthly and spiritual pleasures.

Jealousy and Flirtation was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1874 (no. 612).

This painting was bequeathed to the V&A by Joshua Dixon (1811-1885), a successful cotton merchant. In addition to oil paintings, watercolours and drawings, his collection also included engravings, Japanese vases and panels, and bronze and marble sculpture. Born in Dalston, north-east London, Dixon died on his estate of Winslade Park in Somerset and left his collection initially to the Bethnal Green Museum, which is part of the V&A, for the 'benefit of the people of East London.'
Subjects depicted
Accession Number

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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