Youth on the Prow, and Pleasure at the Helm is an 1832 painting by English artist William Etty. It was inspired by a metaphor in Thomas Gray's poem The Bard in which the apparently bright start to the misrule of Richard II of England was compared to a gilded ship whose occupants are unaware of an approaching storm. Etty chose to illustrate Gray's lines literally, showing a golden boat filled with and surrounded by nude and near-nude figures. The Bard was about a curse on the House of Plantagenet placed by a Welsh bard following Edward I's attempts to eradicate Welsh culture, and critics felt that Etty had misunderstood its point. Some reviewers praised the piece, and in particular Etty's technical abilities, but audiences of the time found it hard to understand, and the use of nudity led some critics to consider the painting tasteless and offensive. It was bought in 1832 by Robert Vernon. In 1847 Vernon donated his collection to the National Gallery, which in turn transferred it to the Tate Gallery in 1949. Youth and Pleasure remains one of Etty's best-known works, and formed part of major exhibitions in 2001–02 and 2011–12. (Full article...)
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