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Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1786–1846

Venus and Anchises [1826, Royal Academy of Arts, London, exhibition catalogue]

Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
50 x 40 inches (127 x 101.6 cm), Frame: 58 x 48 x 3 1/2 inches (147.3 x 121.9 x 8.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
amphora | cottage | drapery | house | lyre | man | red | religious and mythological subject | robe | rug | sandals | toga | white (color) | woman
Associated People:
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Benjamin Robert Haydon was an aspiring history painter, and the subject of this painting was inspired by the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, in which the Greek goddess of love (her Roman counterpart being Venus) descended to Mount Ida disguised as a mortal to seduce the cowherd Anchises. While the artist based the figure of Venus on examples of ancient sculpture, he used his wife, Mary, as a model for the face of the goddess. Indeed, Haydon featured the likenesses of his family, friends, and himself in many of his paintings. However, this mingling of the real and the ideal in his historical compositions did not always sit well with the critics, and in this instance, one reviewer lamented the lack of ideal beauty in Haydon’s Venus, dismissing her as an “affected flirt, introduced as a goddess.”

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

' 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]

Juxtapositions (Yale Center for British Art, 1997-11-19 - 1998-01-04) [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. 134, V 0909 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Catalogue of the art treasures of the United Kingdom : collected at Manchester in 1857., Bradbury and Evans, London, p. 91, no. 303, N5056 .M35 M25 1857 (YCBA) Also available in Hathitrust [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, p. 110-111, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 28, ND466 G67 (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. 101, N5054 A78 2001B (YCBA) [YCBA]

The Companion to a Walk Through the Art Exhibition of Paintings and Engravings at Old Trafford Palace, A. Ireland and Co., Manchester : UK, 1857, p. 84, no. 303, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=gri.ark:/13960/t10p4pj8s&view=1up&seq=1 [Website]

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