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James Ward, 1769–1859

Venus Rising from her Couch

Materials & Techniques:
Oil on panel
30 x 25 3/4 inches (76.2 x 65.4 cm)

Signed and dated, lower right: "J WARD [monogram] R. A. 1828~"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
animals | back | beauty | bed | curtains | doves | goddess | love | morning | mountains | nude | peace | portrait | religious and mythological subject | Roman | swans | urn | vase | woman
Associated People:
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

This panel was painted as a pendant to Diana at the Bath, which is shown nearby. Both paintings reveal James Ward’s admiration for the old masters, particularly Titian and Peter Paul Rubens; but in their mannerist distortions, flesh vitality, and rich sensuality, these paintings also recall the work of Henry Fuseli, who had died a few years earlier. When Venus Rising from her Couch was shown at the Royal Academy exhibition at Somerset House in 1830, one critic remarked that despite its mythological subject matter, the painting “possesses not one redeeming virtue to atone for its indelicacy.” Another critic echoed these sentiments and further protested, “Why are the modest and lovely young females who daily grace the rooms of Somerset House with their presence, to have their feelings outraged, and blushes called into their cheeks, by a work like this,—placed too in a situation in which it cannot possibly escape near notice?”

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]

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]

Edward John Nygren, James Ward, RA (1769-1859) : Papers and Patrons, Volume of the Walpole Society, vol. 75, 2013, pp. 344-45, no. 402, N12 W35 +A1Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

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