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Venus at her bath

Italian (Florentine) School

Category

Art / Sculpture

Date

circa 1757

Materials

Plaster

Measurements

1080 x 430 x 530 mm

Place of origin

Florence

Order this image

Collection

Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire

NT 109014

Summary

Painted plaster, Venus at her bath, Italian (Florentine) School, c. 1757. A plaster cast of Venus, Roman goddess of love, at her ritual bath, painted white. She is seated on a rock, the lower half of her body covered with drapery. Turning to proper right, she washes her proper left foot crossed over her right knee with her proper right hand and uses her left hand to support herself. Mounted on a circular pedestal.

Full description

A bill dated August 1757 from the sculptor Joseph Wilton (1722-1803) to Nathaniel Curzon (1726-1804) lists this statue as one of four 'Cast in plaister' for Kedleston Hall. 'Venus washing' was priced at £15 - 15s, around £1,600 in today's money. The consignment also included a cast of 'The Wrestlers' (now departed), 'The Grinder' (i.e. 'The Arrotino', now departed), and the 'Bacchus of Sansovino' (on display at Kedleston Hall, NT 108991). There is no evidence to suggest Wilton possessed the actual moulds for these casts, unlike his colleague Matthew Brettingham (1725-1803) who had moulds made in Rome for twelve antique statues from which ten were cast for the Marble Hall at Kedleston. Nathaniel Curzon records the cast in his handwritten list of 'Statues I have' (c. 1760), drawn up during Robert Adam's transformation of Kedleston Hall. 'Venus washing her feet' is listed among the statuary and again, on the verso, under the heading 'Statues I have not yet disposed of', indicating that Curzon had not yet planned where to place Venus at her bath in Adam's scheme for the new state rooms. By 1769, when an updated 'Catalogue of the pictures, statues, &c. at Kedleston' was published, the cast had been removed from the Great Staircase to the 'Fishing Room' (i.e. the Fishing Pavillion, where it stands today). Alice Rylance-Watson February 2019

Provenance

Purchased 1757 by Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Baron Scarsdale (1726-1804) from Joseph Wilton; see receipt dated August 1757, 'To Value of a Cast in plaister of the...Venus washing', at £15-15s-0d; identifiable as 'Venus drawing a thorn from her foot' in the 'Catalogue of the pictures, statues, &c. at Kedleston' of 1758 (Great Staircase, p. 16); identifiable in the 'Catalogue' of 1769 as 'Venus drawing a thorn from her foot, now in the Fishing-Room' (Great Staircase, p. 22); purchased with part of the contents of Kedleston Hall with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund in 1986 when the house and park were given to the National Trust by Francis Curzon, 3rd Viscount Scarsdale (1924-2000).

Credit line

Kedleston Hall, The Scarsdale Collection (acquired with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and transferred to The National Trust in 1987)

Makers and roles

Italian (Florentine) School, caster Joseph Wilton, RA (London 1722 - Wanstead 1803), dealer

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