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The Combat: Woman Pleading for the Vanquished

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The Combat: Woman Pleading for the Vanquished


This picture was one of Etty’s first large-scale history paintings (304 x 399cm). In 1825, he received widespread fame when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy. It shows a defeated warrior as the victor prepares to kill him, and a woman clutching his waist, pleading for the vanquished warrior’s life. She represents the beauty and magnificence of mercy. Etty was sometimes accused of unnecessarily exposing flesh in his pictures for immoral amusement, however he claimed that he used nudes as a way of expressing lofty morals. In 1831, this much admired painting was bought by the newly founded Royal Scottish Academy to encourage contemporary Scottish artists to imitate Etty’s practice of grand history painting. It was presented to the National Galleries of Scotland in 1910.

Glossary Open

History painting

Paintings in which the subject is taken from biblical, classical or other mythological histories.

Royal Academy

An independent institution founded in 1768 with Sir Joshua Reynolds as its first president. It is governed by the Royal Academicians - leading painters, sculptors, printmakers and architects, which number no more than 80 at one time. It organises exhibitions at its London galleries, including an annual Summer Exhibition.

Royal Scottish Academy

The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) was formed in Edinburgh in 1826 by Scottish artists who felt alienated by what they perceived as the elitism of the Royal Institution and its management of contemporary art exhibitions. In 1835, the RSA secured exhibition rights in the Royal Institution building, which had been erected on The Mound by the Board of Manufactures in 1826. The RSA and the Board frequently argued over responsibilities for advanced art education. From 1859, the RSA shared the premises of the new National Gallery of Scotland under the Board’s custody. In 1910, after transferring most of its art collections to the Gallery, the RSA gained exclusive tenancy of the former Royal Institution building, where it continues to hold large-scale annual exhibitions.

History painting, Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy


  • Acc. No. NG 189
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size (framed: 300.00 x 387.50 x 12.00 cm)
  • Credit Purchased by the Royal Scottish Academy 1831; transferred and presented 1910