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Two young women in elaborate clothing

Preparing for a Fancy Dress Ball is an oil painting by English artist William Etty. Although he was then known almost exclusively for history paintings featuring nude figures, he was commissioned in 1833 by Welsh Conservative politician Charles Williams-Wynn to paint a portrait of two of his daughters. Charlotte, the eldest, is shown standing, helping the seated Mary decorate her hair with a ribbon and a rose, both in lavish Italian-style costume. Etty put a good deal of effort into the piece and took much longer than usual to finish it, first exhibiting it at the 1835 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Generally well received, even by critics usually hostile to Etty, it demonstrated that he was both capable of high-quality work and deserving of patronage by the English elite, and the success led to further commissions. It remained in the collection of Mary Williams-Wynn's descendants and was not shown publicly for 160 years, other than in an 1849 retrospective exhibition. In 2009 it was acquired by the York Art Gallery, where it now forms part of a major collection of Etty's work. (Full article...)

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Today's featured picture


Wrestlers is an oil painting on canvas completed by Thomas Eakins in 1899. It depicts two nearly naked men engaged in a wrestling match, with one holding the other in a half nelson and crotch hold. Eakins painted the work using a photograph of models as a study; for the background, he used the Quaker City Barge Club on Philadelphia's Boathouse Row. This painting, as well as an oil sketch, are held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; an unfinished version is held by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Painting: Thomas Eakins

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