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William Etty, 1787-1849

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1787.03.10
Place of Birth: York
Date of Death: 1849.11.13
Place of Death: York


William Etty was an English painter. He was the seventh child of a Methodist miller and baker. He received financial support from his uncle, a banker.


Etty entered the Royal Academy schools in 1806 and became the pupil of Thomas Lawrence 1807-8. From 1811 he was a regular exhibitor at both the R.A. and the British Institution. In 1816 he worked in the Parisian studio of Jean-Baptiste Regnault. He travelled through Europe in the early 1820s, studying old master works, particularly those of Titian, Veronese and Rubens. In 1824 he was elected A.R.A. and achieved full membership in 1825. His large scale history paintings of this period allowed him to concentrate on the nude, e.g. Benaiah (1829; National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh). He was the only British painter of his time to concentrate on the depiction of the nude and his works were frequently censured by critics. In 1849 a one-man show of his works was held in the Society of Arts in London.


Gilchrist, A., Life of William Etty, 2 vols, London, 1855; Camidge, W., The Poet-Painter of York: William Etty, York, 1899; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Green, Richard, 'William Etty', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 22 February 2002).