This work was acquired after the Art Fund's first campaigning triumph.

The Chairman wrote to The Times inviting contributions to save the work for the nation in November 1905. Despite a constant barrage of opposition about the subject, condition and attribution of the painting, the Art Fund continued its campaign and was finally able to announce its success in January 1906. Donations ranged from large to small and evidence suggests the final balance was made by King Edward VII himself. The Art Fund presented the painting to the National Gallery in March 1906. The painting continued to ignite public opinion and was attacked by the suffragette Mary Richardson in 1914 and restored by Helmut Ruhemann. The campaign and acquisition of this work established the Art Fund as a cultural force within modern Britain. The painting depicts Venus as a nude goddess reclining on a draped couch and looking at her reflection in a mirror held up by Cupid.

Provenance

1682-1688, Don Luis and Don Gasper Mendez de Haro. In 1688 taken by the heiress on her marriage to the ducal house of Alba. At one time in the collection of Don Manuel Goday. Smuggled out of Spain in 1813 during the Napoleonic wars. Rokeby Park.


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