Lot 114
  • 114

Benjamin West, P.R.A.

50,000 - 70,000 USD
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  • Benjamin West, P.R.A.
  • Venus at her Birth Attired by the Three Graces
  • signed lower right: B. West 1799 / Retouched 1806
  • oil on canvas laid on panel


Offered by West's sons to the United States in 1826 (131);
Sold by West's sons, Robins, London, 22-25 May 1829, lot 78, to Hayes;
John Allnutt, London;
His sale, London, Christie's, 20 June 1863, lot 437;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 18 December 1959, lot 100;
Mrs. Robert Frank, London;
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Handley-Read, London.


London, Royal Academy, 1830;
London, Fine Art Society, Paintings, Water-colours and Drawings from the Handley-Read Collection, 1974, no. 97.


"A Correct Catalogue of the Works of Mr. West", in Public Characters of 1805, London 1804, p. 567 (as Venus attended by the Graces);
"A Correct List of the Works of Mr. West", in Universal Magazine, vol. III, 1805, p. 531;
J. Barlow, The Columbiad. A Poem, Philadelphia 1807, p. 435, Note 45;
"A Correct Catalogue of the Works of Benjamin West, Esq.,", La Belle Assemblée or Bell's Court and Fashionable Magazine, vol. IV, 1808, p. 18;
H. Moses, The Gallery of Pictures Painted by Benjamin West Esqr, historical painter to His majesty and President of the Royal academy, engraved in outline by Henry Moses, London 1811;
J. Galt, "A Catalogue of the Works of Mr. West", in The Life, Studies, and Works of Benjamin West, Esq., President of the Royal Academy of London, 1820, p. 230;
R. Kraemer, Drawings by Benjamin West and His Son Raphael Lamar West, exhibition catalogue, New York 1975, pp. 33-34, 64, 77;
J. Dillenberger, "Published Lists of West's Paintings" and "Checklist of Known Religous Works by West", in Benjamin West: The Context of His Life's Work, San Antonio 1977, p. 176, no. 377;
H. von Erffa and A. Staley, The Paintings of Benjamin West, New Haven and London 1986, p. 245, cat. no. 157, reproduced.

Catalogue Note

Outline engraving (7 5/8  by 5 11/16 in.) by Henry Moses. Published 1 May 1811, as plate II of Moses 1811 (see Literature), under the title Venus Rising from the Sea.

The central figure of Venus appears here to be a combination of three sculptures which West would have studied during his visit to the Tribune of the Uffizi in the early 1760's.1 The pose of Venus, with her hand raised above her head is primarily taken from descriptions of a painting by Appelles. Ruth Kraemer identified a single sheet of paper with three preparatory drawings for the present composition, as well as two additional drawings, all of which are now located in the Morgan Library.2 In addition to the present work, another now lost autograph version of this composition is recorded.3

1. West travelled to Rome in 1760, and subsequently visited Bologna, Parma and Venice in the subsequent months.
2.  See Literature, von Erffa and Staley 1986.
3. Ibid.