The Dawn of Love (painting)
The Dawn of Love, also known as Venus Now Wakes, and Wakens Love, is an oil painting on canvas by English artist William Etty. First exhibited in 1828, it is currently in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum in Bournemouth. The open sensuality of the work was intended to present a challenge to the viewer.
About The Dawn of Love (painting) in brief
The Dawn of Love, also known as Venus Now Wakes, and Wakens Love, is an oil painting on canvas by English artist William Etty. First exhibited in 1828, it is currently in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum in Bournemouth. It shows a nude Venus leaning across to wake the sleeping Love by stroking his wings. The open sensuality of the work was intended to present a challenge to the viewer mirroring the plot of Comus, in which the heroine is tempted by desire but remains rational and detached. Etty was the first British artist to specialise in the nude, and the reaction of the lower classes to these paintings caused concern throughout the 19th century. Many critics condemned his repeated depictions of female nudity as indecent, although his portraits of male nudes were generally well received. The Lady muses on the notion that sin is only problematic if others become aware of it, and thus it is natural to surrender to desire and surrender to the base idea that it is right to be free of sin. The Dawn of love is not a direct illustration of a scene from Comus but of an early passage in the 1634 masque by John Milton, prior to his meeting with the magician Comus.
The painting is not among the 133 paintings exhibited in the major 1849 retrospective exhibition of Etty’s works, and its exhibition in Glasgow in 1899 drew complaints for its supposed obscenity. In 1889 it was bought by Sir Merton Russell- Cotes, and has remained in the collection of theRussell-Cote’s Art Gallery and Museum ever since. It is currently on display at the gallery until the end of the year, when it will be moved to a new home in the south of the gallery. It will also be displayed at the National Gallery of Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where it is on display until the beginning of the next year, along with a number of other works by Etty, including The Arrival of Cleopatra in Cilicia, The Lady of the Nile, and The Lady in the Garden of Earthly Delights, among other works. For more information, visit the art gallery’s website or the Art Gallery of the University of London’s Art Galleries and Museums website, or click here for more information on the art of the Royal Academy and the Royal College of Art.