Venus and her Doves

William Etty, 1787 - 1849

Venus and her Doves

William Etty 1787 - 1849


Semi-nude figure of Venus and her doves. She stands in a landscape setting with a cherub to the left and a and maiden to the right. Venus stands in the centre of the composition with a dove perched on her right shoulder, her head turned away. The naked maiden sits with her back to the viewer, holding onto a dove attached to twine in her outstretched hand. The small winged cherub leans over a stone trough, and at the feet of Venus, an ornate ewer is placed on the ground. Mountains line the horizon in the distance, and the sky above is covered in cloud.

Display Label

Venus and her Doves 1836 William Etty 1787 - 1849 Oil on canvas In this painting Venus, the Roman goddess of love, is shown with her usual attribute of doves symbolising gentle and constant affection. Cupid, or Eros, the Greco-Roman god of love, often shown as Venus’s son, is drawing water. A female attendant plays with one of the doves, which is prevented from flying away by a string. The subject is mainly a pretext for painting a nude. Etty attempted to make it seem more serious by partly basing it on Titian’s famous painting, Sacred and Profane Love, which is in the Galleria Borghese, Rome. The marble patio and sarcophagus are similar. This painting was commissioned by Daniel Grant, a governor of the Royal Manchester Institution, who also owned Etty’s epic Ulysses and the Sirens. Both paintings suffered from the use of poor materials and have needed much conservation. Dr David Lloyd Roberts bequest 1920.528

Object Name

Venus and her Doves

Creators Name

William Etty

Date Created



object (object: 64.9cm (25 9/16in)): 64.9cm
frame (frame: cm (in)): 94cm x 90cm
object (object: 61cm (24in)): 61cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


Dr David Lloyd Roberts bequest, 1920


© Manchester Art Gallery

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