However, what always puzzled me was the history behind the painting, why this title, why peacock feathers, is there hidden meaning??? When I queried on Leighton and Pavonia painting, I was able to find much material on Leighton, plenty of Pavonia prints for sale, but no history for this work.
So I just started to query on Pavonia by itself. I got a lot of latest news from Jersey City neighborhoods and train stops, which did not seem to help my quest. Finally, I found the following on wickipedia:
A patent for the west bank of the North River was given to Michael Pauw, a burgermeesterof Amsterdam and a director of the Dutch West India Company. Pavonia is the Latinizedform of Pauw's surname, which means "peacock". As was required, Pauw purchased the land from the indigenous population, although the concept of ownership differed significantly for the parties involved. Three Lenape "sold" the land for 80 fathoms (146 m) of wampum, 20 fathoms (37 m) of cloth, 12 kettles, six guns, two blankets, one double kettle, and half a barrel of beer. These transactions, dated July 12, 1630 and November 22, 1630, represent the earliest known conveyance for the area. It is said that the three were part of the same band who had sold Manhattan Island to Peter Minuit then "sold" this land, to which they had retired after that sale in 1626.
In there article I found that the Dutch had named other locations Pavonia lable, the Cunard Line had a ship named Pavonia, etc.
So Mr Pauw's name meant peacock in Dutch, with the latinized version being Pavonia! Mr Pauw's company, the Dutch West India Company, named their first colony on the west bank of the hudson Pavonia. This area later became Jersey City, New Jersey.
Now things were becoming clearer! I can understand why leighton would name the woman Pavonia in a painting with peacock feathers. By the way, he also named another painting with a woman and peacocks Pavonia. So there is some understanding why the painting was so named.
Then I realized that my teacher was born in Jersey City, which makes it appropriate that he would pick the painting for the class, but, alas, had nothing to do with it!