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William Etty, 1787–1849


Materials & Techniques:
Oil on paper laid down on wood
7 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches (19.1 x 14 cm)

Inscribed 'VENEZIA' in red, 'Monsieur Etty' and '31 Lombard Street/London' on the letter that the sitter has open before him

Signed and dated verso: "Depinge in Venezia in questo mezze di settembro 1823/Gugleilmo/address[?]William Etty/31 Lombard Street London" [translated; painted in Venice in this month of September 1823]

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Friends of British Art Fund, and Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
artist | collar | man | painter | paper | portrait | reading | self-portrait
Associated People:
Etty, William (1787–1849), painter
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Etty painted this self-portrait during his first visit to Venice in 1823, where he made thirty or forty copies after Old Master paintings, and was known as "Canal-Etty." During his Venetian sojourn, the artist corresponded regularly with his much older brother Walter (1774-1850), who supported him financially. Somewhat enigmatically, Etty shows himself reading an opened letter that is addressed to Walter-Monsieur Etty-at 31 Lombard Street, London. An inscription on the back, however, clearly places the artist, who signs himself in red and in Italian as "Guglielmo" (William) at "VENEZIA" (Venice). The fact that it is painted on paper (laid on a small panel) was probably due to the fact that Etty was running short of artist's materials. It may also have been painted this way so that Etty could post it home cheaply as a present for Walter.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

An Exhibition of Paintings by William Etty : Arts Council of Great Britain, Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1955, no. 12, p. 18, NJ18 Et88 E95 1955 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Dennis Farr, William Etty, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1958, p. 181, NJ18 ET88 F37 (YCBA) [YCBA]

James Hamilton, A Strange Business : A Revolution in Art, Culture, and Commerce in 19th Century London, Pegasus Books, New York, London, 2015, See colored plate section between pp. 178 and 179, unnumbered plate, N8600 .H36 2015 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : a passion for British art [large print labels], , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v.3, N5220 M552 P381 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Leonard Robinson, William Etty : The Life and Art, McFarland & Co., Jefferson, NC, 2007, p. 114, NJ18 Et88 R6 2007 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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