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During 1822-23 Etty spent seven months in Venice: a visit to Italy, where the masterpieces of the Renaissance were to be seen, had always been considered essential to the education of any artist. It was here that Etty learned to imitate the colouring of the great Venetian painters Giorgione and Titian; in technique and subject this work is clearly inspired by their example, while looking forward to the Aestheticism of Leighton and Whistler. Etty was regarded by his contemporaries as one of the best British colourists. The widely held belief in this country that British artists were superior to French and German painters in their handling of colour was a matter for some pride during the nineteenth century.

August 2004