William Etty (1787-1849)

Musidora: the Bather At the Doubtful Breeze Alarmed

William Etty was born in York, but financial support from his uncle, a banker, allowed him to go to London in 1805. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1806. From 1811 he exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. In 1816 he worked in the studio of Jean-Baptiste Regnault in Paris. Etty is well-known as the only major British painter before the 20th century to have devoted his career to the nude, often provoking great controversy.

This painting illustrates a moment from James Thomson's The Seasons (1727) when Musidora is discovered bathing by Damon. The book was a popular source for a number of artists, and Etty made a number of versions of the subject. Despite her nudity, Musidora’s modesty was not in doubt, Thomson, describing her as 'What a pure, virginal, shrinking, chaste, delightful creature is his Musidora'.

 

Image above: Musidora: the Bather At the Doubtful Breeze Alarmed, exhibited 1846
Tate, London, 2007