William Etty England

3-10-1787 York, ENG - 11-13-1849 York, ENG

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Etty, William

William Etty commenced his training by copying without instruction from nature, models, prints. In the summer of 1807 he was admitted to be a private pupil of Sir Thomas Lawrence, who was at the very acme of his fame.

In 1811, after repeated rejections, he had the satisfaction of seeing his Telemachus rescuing Antiope on the walls of the Academy. It was badly hung, however, and attracted little notice. For the next five years he persevered with quiet and constant energy in overcoming the disadvantages of his early training with yearly growing success. In 1816 he resolved to improve his knowledge of art by a journey to Italy.

Struggles and vexations still continued to harass him; but he bore up against them with patient endurance and force of will. In 1820 his Coral-finders, exhibited at the Royal Academy, attracted much attention.

In 1822 he again set out on a tour to Italy, taking Paris on his way, and astonishing his fellow-students at the Louvre by the rapidity and fidelity with which he copied from the old masters in that gallery.

Early in 1824 he returned home to find that honors long unjustly withheld were awaiting him. In that year he was made an associate of the Royal Academy, and in 1828 he was promoted to the full dignity of an Academician. William Etty’s career was from this time one of slow but uninterrupted success.

During the next ten years of his life the zeal and unabated assiduity of his studies were not at all diminished. He was a constant attendant at the Academy Life School, where he used to work regularly along with the students, some of his fellow-Academicians thought the practice undignified.

In 1840, and again in 1841, William Etty undertook a pilgrimage to the Netherlands, to seek and examine for himself the masterpieces of Rubens in the churches and public galleries there. Two years later he once more visited France with a view to collecting materials for what he called “his last epic,” his famous picture of Joan of Arc.

In 1848, after completing this work, he retired to York, having realized a comfortable independence. One wish alone remained for him now to gratify; he desired to see a “gathering” of his pictures.

Art Movement: Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
Influences: Thomas Lawrence
Traveled: Italy, France, Scotland, Netherlands
1911 Encyclopedia Britanica

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