Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Oil painting - A Nymph Drawing Her Bow on a Youth
  • A Nymph Drawing Her Bow on a Youth
    Kauffman, Angelica, born 1741 - died 1807
  • Enlarge image

A Nymph Drawing Her Bow on a Youth

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1780 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kauffman, Angelica, born 1741 - died 1807 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on copper

  • Museum number:

    24-1886

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case WW

Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807) was born in Switzerland and was seen as a child prodigy. She soon specialised in history and portraits paintings while in Italy (especially Florence, Rome and Naples, Bologna, Parma and Venice) she was influenced by the nascent Neo-classical style. She became a member of the Roman Accademia di San Luca at the age of 23. She arrived in London in June 1766 and remained there for 15 years before moving back to Italy with her second husband the painter Antonio Zucchi (1726-1796). In London, she was a founder-member of the Royal Academy. All her life, she enjoyed international patronage such as the family of George III in Britain, Grand Duke Paul and Price Nikolay Yusupov in Russia, Queen Caroline of Naples and Emperor Joseph II of Austria among others. She died in Rome where her funeral was arranged by the Neo-classical sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822).

This composition was executed c. 1780 by A. Kauffmann as an illustration of a poem written by Francis Davidson (c. 1570-c. 1620) and compiled by Thomas Percy in his anthology entitled Reliques of Ancient Poetry (1765). The painting forms a pair with 23-1886, which illustrates the beginning of the poem whereas the present painting shows the second part of it. It is a fine example of neo-classical design inspired by poetic sources often contemporary even when they appear entirely classical in content.

Physical description

A nymph bends her bow at a shepherd while Cupid half-hidden in the trees points at her.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1780 (painted)

Artist/maker

Kauffman, Angelica, born 1741 - died 1807 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil on copper

Marks and inscriptions

'Angelica Kauffman'
Signed by the artist

Dimensions

Height: 45.72 cm painting, Width: 52 cm painting, Height: 463 mm frame, Width: 532 mm frame, Depth: 50 mm frame

Object history note

Possibly collection of W. Dallas O. Grieg, Esq., in 1884; purchased in 1886.

Historical significance: Angelica Kauffman's pictures were particularly popular in England and were used in interior decorations such as murals and designs painted on furniture, mostly in cooperation with the architect Robert Adam. Her designs were often distributed as prints and this particular composition was engraved by G.S. and J.G. Facius (The British Museum, London - 1873,0809.291).
The painting forms a pair with 23-1886, which subject matter has been identified as an illustration of a poem written by Francis (?) Davidson, c. 1620, and compiled by Thomas Percy in his anthology entitled Reliques of Ancient Poetry (1765). The painting illustrates the second part of the poem: the nymph awakes and seizes her bow and bends it at the shepherd with one of Cupid's arrow, whereas the beginning of the poem is shown in 23-1886: a nymph is asleep and a shepherd observes her while Cupid replaces one of her arrows with his own.
Another oval composition (Old Westbury Gardens, Long Island, New York) of the exact same dimension shows the same nymph and shepherd in another situation. This suggests that the three paintings originally formed an ensemble. The Long Island painting was formerly in the collection of Sir Charles Rushout and bought by him from the collection of W. Dallas O. Grieg, Esp., in 1884. The date of acquisition of the present painting suggests that they share the same provenance.

Descriptive line

Oil on copper, Cupid's Pastime 'nymph and swain', Angelica Kauffman, ca. 1780

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

Tobias G. Natter, ed. Angelika Kauffmann Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, Vorarlberger Landesmuseum, Bregenz, 2007. ISBN 978 3 7757 1984 1 (English), 978 3 7757 1983 4 (German)
Victoria and Albert Museum, Summary Catalogue of British paintings, London, 1973, p. 71.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Angelica Kauffmann was the most famous female artist in 18th-century Britain. She was especially well known for her pictures of classical and historical subjects. Many of them, like the two paintings shown here, were made into prints for decorating rooms. [27/03/2003]
BG Display Note: Label: The nymph has woken and shoots at the shepherd, who, far from dying, falls further in love with the nymph. Puzzled, she tests one of her arrows upon herself and immediately falls in love with her prey. Cupid congratulates himself. Kauffmann was born in Switzerland and lived in England between 1766 and 1781. She specialised in neo-classical portraits and subjects from classical mythology. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Oil paint; Copper

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Bow (weapon); Arrow; Nymph; Shepherd

Categories

British Galleries; Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.