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English: A Sleeping Nymph Watched by a Shepherd , about 1780, Angelica Kauffman V&A Museum no. 23-1886

Techniques - oil on copper

Dimensions - Height 45.72 cm (painting) Width 52 cm (painting)

Object Type - Work by Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807) was often based on literary subjects, and the treatment of this image is typical of the subject-matter found in decorative panels in many Neo-classical interiors by the architect Robert Adam (1728-1792).

Subjects Depicted - This painting is an illustration to a poem attributed to Francis Davison, `Cupid's Pastime', written about 1620 and reprinted in Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry in 1765. Kauffmann has followed the text closely in her painting; the second verse describes the nymph asleep thus:

`Her golden hair o'spread her face; Her careless arms abroad were cast; Her quiver had her pillow's place; Her breast lay bare to every blast.'

People -

Angelica Kauffmann was a Swiss painter and etcher who worked in the Neo-classical style. She painted many portraits, but unusually for a woman artist of that time she specialised in subject pictures too. Her patrons included members of the royal families of Great Britain, Russia, Poland, Naples and Austria, and she was much admired by her fellow artists.
Date c. 1780


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