'Clytie' by Lord Frederic Leighton
Ovid's Metamorphoses - Clytie and Apollo
Put simply, Clytie loved Apollo but was rejected by him. Apollo loved Daphne but she didn't love him and prayed to the river god, Peneus or Gaia and was transformed into a laurel, which greatly pleased Clytie but Apollo had lost the love of his life.
Apollo abandoned Clytie and she sat, naked on rocks for nine days without food or water, staring at the sun (Apollo), after which the Gods transformed her into a beautiful 'turnsole', which is Old English for a rock plant that turns its head to the sun (heliotrope).
'So-called' bust of Clytie, created in 40 or 50AD
From the Towneley Marbles Collection
So-called because the provenance of the bust has an ambiguous history, some referring to her as Agrippina and it has been contended that it is an 18th Century work. But a later conclusion is that it is an ancient Antonia Minor, or a Roman Ariadne. Towneley himself named her 'Isis in a lotus flower' but the common belief is that she is in fact, Clytie. During his grand tour of Italy in 1771-74, Towneley acquired the bust from the Neapolitan Laurenzano family, who insisted that it had been found locally. The bust was widely preproduced; it is said that Goethe, alone, had two casts of it.
Towneley in his Park Street house with three fellow connoisseurs
An imaginery painting by Johann Zoffany, 1733-1810
The Clytie bust is sitting on a small writing table
Towneley (he changed the spelling to Townley)
had a purpose-built house constructed for
his marble collection at Park Street in London's West End,
where he died in 1805.
Left: Clytie bust by George Frederick Watts showing her metamorphosing into a flower.
Right: Clytie bust by Hiram Powers
Peter Paul Rubens, 1636
Footnote: I've never been a scholar of Greek mythology, nor pretended to understand it; I went looking for the story of Clytie after seeing a reproduction of Towneley's bust on 'Antiques Roadshow'. I'm happy to be corrected by anyone with higher knowledge....Alaine.