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This portrait was probably commissioned to celebrate the marriage of Catherine Moore to Charles Warwick Bampfylde
in 1776. Lady Bampfylde's pose is a witty adaptation of the famous classical statue, the Venus de' Medici (illustrated to the
left) then regarded as the embodiment
of female beauty. In the classical statue
the goddess's hands are positioned over her breasts and genitalia, simultaneously emphasising her modesty and her sexual potency. Here Reynolds has slightly lowered the left arm, while the right arm, gesturing towards the white lilies, casts
an artful shadow across the area of the figure's lower torso.

August 2004