“Etty was in the unique position of being a superlative painter of the nude at a time when nudes were going out fashion. The nude in Victorian painting could only appear heavily disguised. One gets the impression that some kind of excuse was always necessary, either a subject could be chosen which demanded a nude, as in Lady Godiva, or the subject was set in classical times, which allowed Alma-Tadema to put Victorian ladies into Roman baths, or else the nude was obviously drawn from a classical model and not from life, as seen in the engraving of Lady Godiva, which appears to be after a marble statue. The unwholesome aura surrounding the nude was suggested at the Royal Academy itself, where men under the age of 20 we're not allowed to study the female nude unless they were married.” — Hilary Beck,



Figure Studies in Oil


Beck, Hilary. Victorian Engravings. London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1973.

Last modified 1 August 2018