View full screen - View 1 of Lot 92. WILLIAM ETTY, R.A. | A Bacchanalian Revel.

WILLIAM ETTY, R.A. | A Bacchanalian Revel

Property from a Private Collection

WILLIAM ETTY, R.A. | A Bacchanalian Revel

WILLIAM ETTY, R.A. | A Bacchanalian Revel

Property from a Private Collection


York 1787 - 1849


oil on canvas

unframed: 112 x 143.5 cm.; 40 x 56½ in. 

framed: 167 x 134 cm.; 65 3/4 x 52 3/4 in.


William Etty and the Nude, a Legacy of Controversy 

Please note, Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot. 

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The painting is ready to hang. There is a fair amount of restoration throughout, which for the most part is due to paint separation; this is particulalrly true in the darker areas. The right hand third has suffered slightly more than the rest and there are a few large areas of spidery retouching in the craqulure, most notably lower right. The leftmost figure's cheek and legs have concentrations of retouchings, as does the figure seen from behind in the centre throught the gap in the trees. Almost all of this is part of the natural ageing process typical of Etty's works.

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.  


Possibly John Campbell, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane (1796-1862), Taymouth Castle, Perthshire;

Taymouth Castle, Scotland (according to a label formerly on the reverse of the painting);

Anonymous sale, London, Christie's South Kensington, 18 November 2009, lot 22, where acquired by the present owner. 

S. Burnage, M. Hallett & L. Turner (eds), William Etty: Art & Controversy, exh. cat., York 2011, pp. 70 & 194, cat. no. 59, reproduced in colour.

York, York Art Gallery, William Etty: Art and Controversy, 25 June 2011 - 22 January 2012, no. 59.

Etty was strongly influenced by the Old Masters and travelled through France to Italy in the early 1820s. Having visited Paris, Rome, Naples and Florence, in November 1822 he arrived in Venice. For him the city represented the ‘cradle and birthplace of colour’ and he spent much of his time eagerly copying the works of Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese. This magnificent painting is thought to have been painted later in that same decade and both its rich colouring and subject matter demonstrate the impact of the Venetian masters on his work.

It is also reminiscent of the Bacchanalian revels of Poussin, of whose The Triumph of Pan Etty had made several studies,1 as well as the multifigural Bacchic compositions of Jacob Jordaens, one of which Etty owned himself and was among his most treasured possessions (he also owned a copy of Titian's The Andrians, celebrating the pleasures of wine, which he acquired in 1827).2 Such was the inspiration behind this, one of Etty’s most dynamic and sophisticated works, with thirteen revellers flirting, eating, drinking and adoring the figure of a pagan Term, cornucopias of food and wine and exotic animals.

We are grateful to Richard Green for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot. For further discussion of Etty's relationship with the Old Masters see his essay 'Etty and the Masters' in the York exhibition catalogue (see Literature).