This painting is thought to be a study intended to later be made into a historical painting. The contrast of light and dark have a double effect for Etty – adding depth and interest to what might otherwise be seen as a very straightforward life-study, whilst also allowing the artist to concentrate on his main area of interest. The shadow hides her face, and the light on her torso draws attention to her body and the colours of her skin.
Standing Female Nude
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 101.6 x 64.8 cm
William Etty RA (1787 –1849) was an English artist specialising in historical paintings, and became well known for his depictions of male and female nude figures. This also earned him a reputation for indecency, but his ability to render flesh in realistic tones was celebrated at the Royal Academy of Arts and by 1828 was established as a successful artist. His devotion to painting the human figure saw him attend life drawing classes throughout his life and career, something universally considered as odd by his both his peers and the students he worked alongside.