LADY GODIVA — Symbol Of Protests And Justice In Art

4 min readJun 16, 2020


Do you think of chocolates as soon as you hear the name “Godiva”? Then you are up for a surprise because that is how limited our knowledge of art and folklore is! Painted by John Collier- one of the prominent pre-Raphaelite painters of English descent Lady Godiva’s portrayal is renowned for both Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood style and her ride through England’s Coventry.

Lady Godiva oil painting is considered to be one of the most intriguing pieces of art and even of John Collier art who is known for being a great fan of mythological fantasies. And you can’t possibly go about talking of female nude magnum opuses without mentioning this incredible masterpiece of the medieval mythical beauty.

The Big Question: Who’s the Lady?

The subject of the painting is known to be an aristocrat woman from the eleventh century and was married to Leofric- the mighty Earl of Mercia and Coventry’s Lord. She is known to have reportedly protested against the unfair tax system by riding naked on the horse.

According to the tales told through the generations, Godiva used to feel devastated by the exorbitant taxes that were levied by Leofric on the Coventry’s citizens. She relentlessly pleaded with him to cut down the taxes and thereby lessen the pain that the common people had to bear. Leofric who was widely known for being extremely brutal and insensitive asked Godiva to ride on a horse like a piece of naked art and pass through the town if she wished her request to be granted.

Lady Godiva was very well aware of the sheer humiliation that she would encounter yet she dared to do for the well-being of the people. She stripped away every piece of her garment for the greater good of people, stoically sat on the horse and almost surreptitiously predicting the contemporary Godiva painting of nude art she rushed through the market square.

The Mystical Incident

As she rode the horse, her dense, long hair flew to cover her sanctity. In this nude art by the artist, her shyness and the gallantry is immaculately mirrored on the canvas. With vibrant colors that have been chosen, this nude art speaks oceans about the ideal combination of flawless beauty and courage borne by a woman for the goodwill of others.

On her urge, nobody from Coventry peeked to look at her during the action. However, there was a man named Tom who could not help himself from witnessing Lady Godiva in all her beauty and distress. Rumor has it that as soon as he set his eyes on the beauty he turned blind. His reference is taken even today and is widely familiar by the name the “Peeping Tom.”

As soon as she finished her naked ride, Godiva staying true to her promise asked her husband to fulfill his promise as well. He respected the same and decided to reduce the taxes that were imposed as debts on people.

Merely a Myth

Majorly, all of the reputed historians believe that the horse ride of nude Godiva is nothing but a myth. Yet, many of the sources say that Lady Godiva, also known as Godgifu was very much a genuine person who lived through the 11th century.

Historically, to the church, Godiva epitomizes the value of generosity. In fact, in hand with Leofric, she founded a monastery as well. It is also currently believed that she was one of those rare woman landowners of England who lived through the 1000s; however, there is no mention of her naked horse ride there.

It is believed that the story was not mentioned nearly 100 years after her death. It was erased by Roger of Wendover, an English monk who played with truth in many of his works. On the other hand, the story of Peeping Tom was assimilated in the culture only after the 16th century. Many songs have described her glory and poets like Lord Tennyson, Alfred made her even more popular and immortalized her through their verses.

Mythological Muse

Furthermore, Lady Godiva was also considered to be the muse of a plethora of paintings. Around 1897, John Collier boldly painted her stark naked, however, he covered her with her long hair while sitting on a white horse. In stark contrast to it, Edmund Blair opted to depict her while being covered in a pristine white dress which shows her desire to not be seen by the people.

She has been remembered through one of the most memorable songlines of Queen, a popular band in the 1970–80’s — ‘I’m a racing car, passing by like Lady Godiva’. Just like the mesmerizing Godiva painting of John Collier art collection, this song enthralled everyone and obtained platinum status.

And having this John Collier art that’s not just aesthetically pleasing but carries a beautiful message in your home or office is only going to spread its charm. The reproduction of splendid Godiva artwork is going to accentuate your abode and at the same time remind you to always be kind to others and think of everyone’s well-being and not just look out for one’s existence.




Museum Quality custom oil painting reproductions of famous artists. The biggest selection, superior quality, custom sizes, fast and secure delivery.