William Etty, 'Male Nude'

Contributed by York Art Gallery

William Etty, 'Male Nude'

William Etty (1787-1849) was renowned for the studies he made from life, and his ability to render flesh tints won him almost universal applause from contemporaries, who marvelled at the depth and corporeality of the figures he painted. This depiction of a male nude with arms up-stretched vividly illustrates his passion and interest in the human form. The model is positioned as if he is collapsing; his back arching, he appears to gently slide down the wall. His arms are held aloft and supported by ropes which are softly looped around his wrists. Etty never publicly exhibited this studio study and the work remained in his collection until his death. However the model's pose strongly corresponds with the positioning of Christ's body in scenes of his deposition from the cross and it is possible Etty intended this work to be a preliminary study for a more complete narrative painting.

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