Painting by Etty, York's most famous artist, acquired for York Art Gallery

  • 23 November 2009

One of the finest portraits ever painted by York's most famous artist, William Etty, has been purchased by York Art Gallery, thanks in part to a £40,000 grant from independent charity The Art Fund.

William Etty’s Preparing for a Fancy Dress Ball was commissioned in 1833 by MP Charles Watkin Williams–Wynn and depicts two of the patron’s five daughters. It is one of only a handful of society portraits painted by the artist.

In addition to The Art Fund’s grant, generous support was provided by Friends of York Art Gallery, the MLA/ V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Tomasso Brothers.

The painting will go on show in the gallery from 26 November 2009.

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "This striking painting with its warm tones and lively subject matter will be instantly attractive to visitors at York Art Gallery, and Etty’s York roots make the acquisition doubly significant, which is why The Art Fund helped bring it home."

Preparing for a Fancy Dress Ball is a significant addition to the gallery’s Etty collection, the largest public holding of his works in Britain. Part of this collection, together with loans from across the country will feature in the gallery’s exhibition on the artist in summer 2011, in what is to be the most significant Etty exhibition in half a century. More details to be announced soon.