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Oil painting - Head of a monk

Head of a monk

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Date:

    ca. 1841-ca. 1842 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Etty, born 1787 - died 1849 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

An oil painting of a monk leaning out of a window and looking to the left.


ca. 1841-ca. 1842 (painted)


Etty, born 1787 - died 1849 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas


Height: 30.5 cm estimate, Width: 26.6 cm estimate

Object history note

Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868

Descriptive line

Oil Painting, 'Head of a monk', William Etty RA, ca. 1841-ca. 1842

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Parkinson, R., Victoria and Albert Museum, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, London: HMSO, 1990, p. 84
The following is the full text of the entry:
"ETTY, William, RA (1787-1849)

Born York 10 March 1787, the son of a baker. Apprenticed to a printer at Hull, moved to London 1805, entered the RA Schools 1807 and studied with Sir Thomas Lawrence. Early works were mainly portraits and nude studies; his first large figure composition was 'The Coral Finder' (1820). Exhibited 138 works at the RA between 1811 and 1850, and 77 at the BI 1811-47. Travelled abroad in 1815/6, 1822, and 1830, principally to Paris and Italy. Elected ARA 1824, RA 1828. A retrospective exhibition was held at the Society of Arts 1849. Died York 13 November 1849. His studio sale was at Christie's 6-10 and 13-14 May 1850. Most admired in his lifetime for his large mythological subjects, but now perhaps more appreciated for his less finished and smaller studies of the nude.

LIT: A Gilchrist Life of William Etty 2 vols, 1855; W Gaunt and F G Roe Etty and the Nude Leigh-on-sea 1943; D Farr William Etty 1958

Head of a Monk
1392-1869 Neg L897
Canvas, 30.5 x 26.6 cm (12 x 10½ ins)
Townshend Bequest 1869

Farr dates this study to about 1841-2, drawing attention to Etty's two visits to a Trappist monastery near Antwerp where he bought a monk's habit for use as a studio accessory. In a letter to his niece of 6 July 1841 quoted by Gilchrist, he saw 'several of the Brotherhood, - each of fine old Picture, - ... very fine studies. I should like to have sketched some of them.' He shows the monk peering from the window of (presumably) his cell, in the manner of a Dutch 17th-century painting. A 'Head of a Monk - a study for the [oan of Arc' was lot 786 in Etty's studio sale at Christie's 13 May 1850.
LIT: Gilchrist II, ppl22-3; Farr no 17, pp91-2, 134"

Production Note

Denis Farr dates this study to about 1841-2, based on Etty's two visits to a Trappist monastery near Antwerp where he bought a monk's habit for use as a studio prop.


Canvas; Oil paint


Oil painting

Subjects depicted




Collection code


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