Joseph Mallord William Turner Phryne Going to the Public Baths as Venus: Demosthenes Taunted by Aeschines exhibited 1838

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Artwork details

Title
Phryne Going to the Public Baths as Venus: Demosthenes Taunted by Aeschines
Date Exhibited 1838
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1930 x 1651 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
N00522
Not on display

Display caption

Here Turner moves from ancient Rome to Athens, at the same time apparently conflating two classical legends with characteristic freedom. Phryne, a famous courtesan, once celebrated the festival of Poseidon by going naked into the sea at Eleusis near Athens. Her near-contemporary Demosthenes once taunted Aeschynes, his rival as an orator, of being the son of a courtesan (but not of Phryne herself).

August 2004

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