Musidora

Artist: Thomas Sully (American, Horncastle, Lincolnshire 1783–1872 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Date: 1813–35

Culture: American

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 28 1/8 x 22 1/2 in. (71.4 x 57.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Louis Allston Gillet, in memory of his uncles, Sully Gillet and Lorenzo M. Gillet, 1921

Accession Number: 21.48

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 733
Painted in Sully's most succulent, painterly manner, "Musidora" is his only known nude. Inspired by James Thomson's poem Summer (1727), it is at once chaste and erotic, a combination that had great appeal for contemporary Victorian audiences. Sully depicts the modest Musidora at the moment her suitor, Damon, discovers her bathing in the forest. His gentlemanly conduct so impresses her that she pledges her love for him at once. The subject was painted by many artists of the day, but Sully's interpretation, in which the unwitting viewer plays the role of Damon, is compellingly unique.
Signature: [at lower left]: TS (monogram) 1835; [on the back]: Begun in 1815--fin[i]shed in 1835 TS [monogram]
the artist, until 1844; Lewis Warrington Gillet, Baltimore and New York, by 1844–died 1858; his wife, Mrs. Lewis (Ann Isobella) Warrington Gillet, New York, by 1896; their grandson, Louis A. Gillet, New York, until 1921