Anne Killigrew lived in Falmouth and was highly praised as both a poet and an artist during her lifetime.

Her early death from smallpox at the age of 25 was much maligned and John Dryden dedicated a poem in memory of her. In fact, Dryden appears to directly refer to this work in his poem talking of ‘nymphs of brightest form’ and ‘shaggy satyrs’. This work is one of only three works known to still exist by Killigrew. Besides the classical narrative portrayed within it, the work has a rich and rather surprising history all of its own. Recent restoration work carried out on the painting uncovered traces of amendments made to it in the 19th century. It seems that Venus’s exposed back was a trifle too much for the painting’s Victorian owners to bear, and so they had her concealed – painted over – with a gold dress. Happily she has now been disrobed.


The artistÂ’s brother, Admiral Henry Killigrew; his sale 1727; Mr Stenhouse by 1915; thence by descent.

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