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Pro Bono Publico: James Gillray and the Art of Satire

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A vestal of –93, trying on the cestus of Venus

1793
18th century
33.8 cm x 40.1 cm (13 5/16 in. x 15 13/16 in.)

James Gillray (London, 1757 - 1815, London) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, English
Medium and Support: Etching and aquatint
Credit Line: Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 2002
            
               Accession Number:                2002.2820             
            
Object Description: Vestal Virgins were female priestesses in ancient Rome who were responsible for maintaining the sacred fire in the temple of Vesta. In this print, an inattentive priestess and her three clumsy putti have knocked over her altar while trying to tie on the cestus of Venus, a band meant to awaken love. A parody on this peculiar fashion trend in 1793, this love-starved woman remains unappealing even with the aid of the cestus.

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