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IIIF Actions
James Ward, 1769–1859
Diana at the Bath
Former Title(s):

Diana at her Bath Disturbed by Actacon

Diana at her bath, disturbed by Actæon [1830, Royal Academy of Arts, London, exhibition catalogue]
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on panel
30 x 25 1/2 inches (76.2 x 64.8 cm)

Signed and dated lower left: "JWR 1830"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
animal | bathing | Bow and arrow | columns | curtains | Diana bathing | dog (animal) | fields (agricultural land) | gesture | hairpiece | landscape | men | nude | nymphs | pearls | religious and mythological subject | Roman | shawl | water | women
Associated People:
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Diana, chaste goddess of the moon and the hunt, is shown splashing water at the trespasser and voyeur Actaeon, a mortal who spied upon her and her nymphs bathing in her sacred grove. The offended goddess transformed Actaeon (who is not represented here) into a stag and he was subsequently torn to pieces by his own hunting dogs. Although based on the myth of Diana and Actaeon from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and painted in emulation of Titian, many reviewers criticized James Ward’s painting as lewd and without artistic merit when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1830. As one outraged critic thundered, “How coarse-minded is the mistake of indecency for beauty and voluptuousness!” Unlike Actaeon, who was punished by death for his transgression, the viewer standing in front of the painting is allowed to gaze upon the naked goddess and her nymphs with impunity and without detection.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Connections (Yale Center for British Art, 2011-05-26 - 2011-09-11) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

James Ward (Yale Center for British Art, 2004-05-21 - 2004-08-22) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

' Art on the Line ' : the Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836 (The Courtauld Gallery, 2001-10-17 - 2002-01-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Art on the line : the Royal Academy exhibitions at Somerset House, 1780-1836 : [catalogue of works], , The Courtauld Gallery, London, 2001, no. 284, V 0909 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Oliver Beckett, The life and work of James Ward, R.A., 1769-1859, the forgotten genius , Book Guild, Lewes (England), 1995, p. 133, 192, no.71, NJ18 W21 B42 1995 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 236, 237, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Cora Gilroy-Ware, The classical body in Romantic Britain, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, p. 164, fig. 78, N6766.5.N4 G55 2020+ (YCBA) [YCBA]

James Ward, Esq. R.A., Part 1 , The Sporting Magazine, n.s. vol. 19, no. 110, November 1826, p. 2, Sporting 2090 (YCBA Rare Books) [ORBIS]

Edward John Nygren, James Ward, RA (1769-1859) : Papers and Patrons, Volume of the Walpole Society, vol. 75, 2013, pp. 346, 347, no. 410, Pl. LI, N12 W35 +A1Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

David H. Solkin, Art on the Line : the Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836, , Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2001, Foldout No. 108, N5054 A78 2001B (YCBA) [YCBA]

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