Artist Search
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z 

 William Etty  (1787 - 1849)

About: William Etty


Examples of his work



Exhibits - current  

Discussion board

Send me updates

    Signature Examples*  
Buy and Sell: William Etty

For sale ads

Auction results*

  Wanted ads Auctions upcoming for him*  


Place a classified ad  
Lived/Active: United Kingdom/England      Known for: large scale figure paintings, voluptuous nudes

Login for full access
View AskART Services

*may require subscription

Available for William Etty:

Biographical information (William Etty)


Artwork for sale (William Etty)


Dealers (William Etty)


Auction records - upcoming / past (William Etty)


Discussion board entries (William Etty)


Image examples of works (William Etty)


Please send me Alert Updates for William Etty (free)
What is an alert list?

Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
A bacchanalian revel
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following is from The Guardian newspaper, United Kingdom, Thursday, June 23, 2011 by Martin Wainwright.

Naked, beautiful and free – William Etty comes in from the cold......

Mocked by JMW Turner as a smutty dauber of 'bumboats', William Etty is being reinstated as a moral chronicler of the divine by a major revival

A painter who scandalised 19th century Britain with vast canvases of explicit nudes is set to enjoy a revival after more than 50 years of neglect.

Almost 100 canvasses by William Etty, who crammed so many pink and curvaceous naked subjects into one allegory that his rival John Constable called it "a bumboat", go on show in his native York this weekend.

The biggest exhibition of his work since the 1950s, the six-month show is the flagship of an Etty revival, which follows three years of intensive research into his life and obsessive reworking of male and female nudes.

Sarah Burnage, one of a trio of art historians behind the project, said: "We aim to drag Etty's art from the doldrums of historical obscurity and give the world a fresh chance to study his truly remarkable work."

A high-minded bachelor whose private life has defied all attempts to unearth smut, Etty was acclaimed in his day but eventually sidelined because of his defiance of moralising, often hypocritical, critics.

He beat Constable to election as a Royal Academician and won royal portrait commissions, but lost standing by ignoring demands for more modesty on his figures than wisps of muslin or strategically-placed clumps of grass.

"No decent family can hang such sights on their walls," said a typical sally in the London Examiner newspaper, lamenting "another indulgence of what we had hoped was a classical, but are now convinced is a lascivious mind".

The Morning Chronicle in 1833 demanded that the distinguished Royal Academy should choose "a purer channel, and not persist, with an unhallowed fancy, to pursue Nature to her holy recesses".

Recesses feature in almost all Etty's major works, but their purpose was entirely misunderstood, according to new scholarship behind the exhibition and an accompanying book, William Etty – Art and Controversy.

Although some modern critics detect "nipple eroticism" and penetrative sex in the artist's preparatory male studies, made at life drawing classes, which he attended until his death aged 62, his final compositions were archetypes of Victorian moral beliefs.

"Look at the titles – for example The Destruction of the Temple of Vice," said Laura Turner, curator of York Art Gallery, which has mounted the exhibition with help from the Paul Mellon centre for studies in British art and York University.

"And see how many of the frolicking nudes are being watched by menacing satyrs, or have darkness looming in the background."

The image Constable termed a "bumboat' picture, a sort-of naked pub crawl called Youth at the Prow and Pleasure at the Helm, even features a devil metamorphosing from storm clouds as the merry crew sail off on a voyage of self-indulgence.

Etty refused demands to clothe them and frequently hit back at his critics, coining the phrase: "To the pure in heart, all things are pure."

He remained friends with Constable and was admired by other leading painters, among them Sir Thomas Lawrence, who passed commissions on to him – including one loaned to the York exhibition by Chatsworth House, which credits Lawrence on the gold frame although it is entirely Etty's work.

Professor Mark Hallett of York University, the third of the organisers and an Etty specialist, said: "He was a modest man which helped to give him strength in the face of the criticism."
It was wounding, however, when the Royal Academy's own professor of painting, Charles Leslie, denounced a naked Pandora as "an objectionable painting which his exquisite pencil should never have attempted".

And then his whole oeuvre was pushed aside by the genuinely raffish work and life of the pre-Raphaelites, the Naughty Nineties decadents and – in the wider world – the masterpieces of JMW Turner and the French Impressionists. An Arts Council exhibition in 1954 led only to a short-lived revival of interest.

Etty remained serene and retired to York, where his family's gingerbread and confectionery business was thriving alongside the growing empires of Terry's and Rowntree's.

He became a major benefactor in the city and was one of the most important figures to resist the disastrous plans of modernisers and the railway companies to demolish the city's famous medieval walls.

"He also got life classes going here," said Bea Bertram, a PhD student at York whose thesis on Etty is also part of the renewal of interest in the artist.

"He often expressed the belief that women were God's most beautiful creation, and nothing was going to stop him from portraying them, brilliantly and again and again."

Online Source:

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

William Etty was an English painter, best known for his paintings of nudes. In accordance with the wishes of his father, Etty served seven years of apprenticeship to a printer in Hull. He was, however, enabled to pursue his studies in painting through the generosity of his uncle, William Etty, who in 1806 invited him to London. In 1807 he entered the London Royal Academy School, studying under Henry Fuseli, and he also studied privately for a year under Sir Thomas Lawrence, whose influence for some time dominated his art.

He copied a great deal from the Old Masters in the National Gallery and was a constant student in the Life School of the Academy, even after he had become an Academician. He paid a brief visit to Paris and Florence in 1816, and in 1822 he took a longer journey to Italy, spending most of his time in Venice. From his studies of the Venetian masters he acquired that excellence in colour for which his works are chiefly known.

"He was controversial during his lifetime in the early and middle 19th century, and still is...Etty's bumboat is what his friend John Constable called a particularly gruesome painting, Youth on the Prow, and Pleasure at the Helm, in which naked women clamber in a pyramid to catch bubbles in a golden-prowed boat."

His works are exhibited extensively in major British galleries. On his return to England in 1824, his Pandora Crowned by the Seasons was much applauded, and he was made a member of the Royal Academy in 1828. From this time he was very successful and attained a good competence. He resided in London until 1848, but on account of failing health he retired to York, where he died.

Etty painted very unequally. His work at its best possesses great charm of colour, especially in the glowing, but thoroughly realistic, glowing, but thoroughly realistic, flesh tints. The composition is good, but his drawing is sometimes faulty, and his work usually lacks life and originality. He often endeavoured to inculcate moral lessons by his pictures. He himself considered his best works to be The Combat, the three Judith pictures, Beniah, David's Chief Captain (all in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Ulysses and the Sirens (Manchester Gallery), and the three pictures of Joan of Arc.

He is also represented in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and in English provincial museums; the Metropolitan Museum, New York owns his The Three Graces, considered by many his masterpiece. The Combat was a large painting, over 10 feet in height and 13 feet in breadth. No buyer would purchase it until Etty's fellow painter John Martin acquired it for £300. Hung in Martin's studio, it was seen there by Lord Darnley, who then commissioned Etty to paint his The Judgement of Paris. A statue of Etty, erected in 1911, stands in front of the York Art Gallery in his home town. Yet "He remains a neglected and underrated artist, one of the few nineteenth-century painters to paint classical subjects successfully."

 Etty had only one English follower in the practice of painting the nude, in William Edward Frost.

    •    There is a life-size sculpture of Etty outside the York Art Gallery. Carved in Portland stone, it was sculpted by the local sculptor George Milburn, and unveiled to the public on 20 February 1911. The centenary of this event in 2011 was commemorated by the major retrospective (June 2011 - January 2012) entitled William Etty: Art and Controversy, with a book of the same name.

    •    Etty is also represented in one of the four roundels above York Art Gallery's entrance. The other roundels contain other famous York artists: John Carr (1723–1807, architect), John Camidge (1734–1803, musician), and John Flaxman (1787–1849, painter).

    •    Todd's bookshop at No. 35 Stonegate, owned by John Todd, was one of York's most prestigious bookshops. Etty described how he "would stand entranced and sketch" the prints displayed in the shop's windows.

    •    No. 20 Feasegate is Etty's birthplace.

    •    Etty's Coney Street house, now next to City Screen, is where Etty lived in retirement from June 1848 until his death in November 1849.

    •    His grave is in St. Olave's Cemetery, Marygate, and inside the church, on the left as you enter, is a stained glass window in memory of Etty.

"William Etty", Wikipedia,

Biography from
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

An English painter, William Etty had financial support from his uncle, which allowed him to go to London in 1805, where he entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1806. Following the death of his uncle in 1809, he became financially secure. From 1811 he exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and the British Institution.

His success was due to large history paintings. He was one of the few British artists to make a career out of this genre. The Classical or Biblical subject-matter of the history works gave Etty the ideal pretext for painting the nude. He did, however, believe that they had a serious purpose and proclaimed that his intention in all his major paintings had been ‘to paint some great moral on the heart'.

During the 1830s and 1840s Etty generally concentrated on smaller, less ambitious works. In this he catered to the market, to the point that, in his later years, he risked being accused of selling out to the dealers.

Throughout his career Etty painted portraits. In his later years he also produced such landscape paintings. At their best his spontaneous oil sketches of landscape bear comparison with Constable's.

Etty is the only major British painter before the 20th century to have devoted his career to the nude. Remarkably, his public recognition and success were achieved in the face of vitriolic censure from a press that accused him of indecency. Though famous and financially successful in his day, his reputation declined after his death and has never fully recovered.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
  go to top home | site map | site terms | AskART services & subscriptions | contact | about us
  copyright © 2000-2015 AskART all rights reserved ® AskART and Artists' Bluebook are registered trademarks

  A |  B |  C |  D-E |  F-G |  H |  I-K |  L |  M |  N-P |  Q-R |  S |  T-V |  W-Z  
  frequently searched artists 1, 2, more...  
  art appraisals, art for sale, auction records, misc artists