The Bather 'At the Doubtful Breeze Alarmed'

William Etty, 1787 - 1849

The Bather 'At the Doubtful Breeze Alarmed'

William Etty 1787 - 1849


Study of a nude woman as she bathes in a river, based upon the poem 'The Seasons' by James Thomson. The woman stands up to her thighs in the water with one arm holding onto a branch on the bank to the right. Her head is turned away from the viewer as she looks further down the river. The scene is surrounded by dense trees in shades of brown and green, and the sky above is cloudy and blue.

Display Label

The Bather ‘At the Doubtful Breeze Alarmed’ 1843 - 49 (also known as Musidora) William Etty 1787 - 1849 Oil on canvas This painting was inspired by lines from James Thomson’s 18th century poem The Seasons. These describe how the summer nymph Musidora, is surprised by her lover Damon as she bathes. ‘but desperate youth ……with fancy blushing, at the doubtful breeze alarmed, and starting like the fearful fawn’. Musidora was seen as a pretext for depicting the nude in British art from the late 1700s to the 1840s, also being represented in sculpture and ceramics. The setting is in the grounds of The Plantation, Acomb, the home of Etty’s patron, the Rev. Isaac Spencer, whom the artist visited in 1842. A larger version exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1843 was dismissed by a critic as ‘a vulgar figure of a female’. Another work of 1846 was described as ‘magnificent’. The reviewer added, ‘Such a beautiful study of the nude we seldom get, even from Etty’. James Gresham gift 1917.261

Object Name

The Bather 'At the Doubtful Breeze Alarmed'

Creators Name

William Etty

Date Created



framed: 53.5cm x 44.5cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


Gift of Mr James Gresham


© Manchester Art Gallery

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