Sir Edward John Poynter, Two Studies of a Male Nude, a chalk drawing

England, around AD 1871

Studies for A Suppliant to Venus

As a teenager, Poynter (1836-1919) visited Rome where he was first struck by the scale and detail of the paintings of Frederic Leighton. His subsequent education prepared him to follow in this academic tradition. He studied under Gleyre in Paris, where his exploits, along with those of his fellow students Whistler and George Du Maurier, are described in Du Maurier's novel Trilby (1894). He worked on a number of important decorative schemes, and prepared illustrations for the Dalziel Brothers. His huge painting Israel into Egypt (1867, Guildhall, London) established his reputation for grand, carefully-researched scenes in an ancient setting. He was an influential teacher and administrator, becoming President of the Royal Academy from 1896 to 1918, and Director of the National Gallery, London, from 1894 to 1904.

This sheet shows two studies for Poynter's painting A Suppliant to Venus, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1871. It illustrates lines 442-4 from William Morris' poem Atalanta's Race, published in The Earthly Paradise (6 vols, 1868-70): 'Then from the altar back a space he drew,/ But from the Queen turned not his face away,/ But ‘gainst a pillar leaned,...'.

A colour study for the same painting, with the figure wrapped in a cape, is also in The British Museum collection.

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More information


M. Liversidge and C. Edwards (eds.), Imagining Rome: British artist (London, Merrell Holberton, 1996)


Height: 302.000 mm
Width: 225.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1919-12-16-10



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