Oil on board
16.75 x 12.5 inches
In this vision of womanhood, the model is a real-life Venus. Etty took delight in the fleshiness of the body, and painted it with an enthusiasm bordering on mania. His biographer Alexander Gilchrist wrote that Etty was ‘never weary of watching each shifting curve and outline, each tint, and tone, graduation of shade or colour, amid the inexhaustible effects of the Models before him; he reproduced and interpreted them, as neither Old Master nor New had done before’ (Life of William Etty, R.A., 1855). After his death, the artist JE Hodgson perceptively remarked ‘He proposed one thing to himself, to paint the naked body, and his views did not extend to the fullness of its beauty, to the grace of its curvature and the perfection of its structure; they were confined to the representation of the colour and the lustre of its skin’ (Magazine of Art, 1889, p 386). His subjection of disegno to colore in his painting was born out of his admiration for the Venetian masters, Titian and Veronese.