Instigated by Jupiter, Venus fell in love with Anchises; here she visits him on Mount Ida; their son will be the great hero Aeneas. The artist saw the arrival of Venus as symbolising the coming of spring; blossom and flowers appear as she approaches her lover; her doves fly around her. For the artist, as for the classical writers whom he read so avidly, love is the great creative force in nature and this, rather than just a lovers’ meeting, is the true subject of this picture. Ideed Anchises can only with difficulty be found and perhaps the landscape painting is the finest part of this picture.


  • Title: Venus and Anchises
  • Creator: William Blake Richmond
  • Creator Lifespan: 1842/1921
  • Creator Nationality: British
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: London, England
  • Creator Birth Place: London, England
  • Date Created: 1889/1890
  • tag / style: William Blake Richmond; Venus and Anchises; Pre-Raphaelite; Ruskin; landscape; Mount Ida; Mount Ida; spring; blossom; flowers; doves; Epipsychidion; Percy Bysshe Shelley; lion; mane
  • Physical Dimensions: w2965 x h1486 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: William Blake Richmond was a most versatile artist. He was a painter of portraits, narrative pictures and occasionally landscapes. He also made sculpture and was responsible for the mosaic decoration in St Paul's Cathedral. He was born in 1842, the son of the artist George Richmond RA, who named him after his early friend the poet painter and mystic, William Blake. Richmond attended the Royal Academy Schools, where he was awarded two silver medals. He was influenced by the newly successful Pre-Raphaelite painters Holman Hunt and Millais, but even more by their enthusiastic advocate, the writer and critic John Ruskin. Richmond began his career painting pictures inspired by poetry, classical legend or stories from the Bible. He continued with such subjects until the end of the 19th century. During the 1860s and '70s he became a very successful portrait painter. Amongst others, he painted Charles Darwin, William Morris, the poet Robert Browning and the Prime Minister WE Gladstone twice. Richmond was the Slade Professor of Fine Art between 1878 and 1883. He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1895 and was knighted in 1897. In 1899 he was President of the Society of Miniature Painters. His grandfather Thomas Richmond was a well-known miniature painter.
  • Additional artwork information: Venus and Anchises' was inspired by a verse from a poem called the 'Epipsychidion', by Percy Bysshe Shelley:'Athwart that wintry wilderness of thorns / Flashed from her motion splendour like the morn's / And from her presence life was radiated / Through the grey earth and branches bare and dead; / So that her way was paved and roofed above / With flowers as soft as thoughts of budding love.'
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Purchased in 1892

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