The Spirit of the Summit (1894). Frederic Leighton (British, 1830-1896). Oil on canvas. Auckland Art Gallery.
Leighton's model for Spirit of the Summit was the well-known actress Dorothy Dene, while the mountain setting was based on studies that Leighton made at Zermatt in Switzerland in autumn 1893. A similar work, Solitude (1890) shows a draped figure in a pose of wistful contemplation, whereas Spirit of the Summit has been described as symbolising the purity of the human spirit, refined of everything gross and material, reaching out beyond itself for eternity. The over-riding sensation, however, is one of Wagnerian isolation.