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Etty specialised in painting the nude and even when older attended life classes at the Royal Academy. He sought to create works which were morally uplifting and used his life studies as elements in larger paintings of historical or mythological subjects. Here the rich backdrop suggests his admiration for Venetian masters including Titian. Etty uses dramatic lighting of the model’s skin, contrasting warm flesh tones and areas of shadow to enliven a somewhat conventional pose. The voluptuousness of Etty’s female nudes struck some contemporaries as improper - The Times found them ‘entirely too luscious for the public’.

October 2013