OIL PAINTING: The Birth of Venus, 1887
The Birth of Venus is indicative of the aestheticized classicism Stott adopted around 1886-7 with its narrow color range, elaborate patterns and reflections. The painting was exhibited accompanied by the following lines from Hesiod's Theogony:
"Her, gods and men name Aphrodite, the foam-sprung Goddess and fair-wreathed Cytherea, and is indeed an ambitious fusion of myth and plein air realism: employing the Renaissance tondo format, Stott presents a modern-day Venus whose streaming hair and open arms echo the undulations of the waves as they meet the shore. The model for the goddess was Whistler's mistress, Maud Franklin, also a painter and exhibitor with the Society of British Artists.
Stott's painting was met with savage criticism: "Why outrage so cruelly the Cyprian goddess by giving her name to a repellent, imperfectly developed type of atelier model" asked Marion Spielmann in the Magazine of Art, 1887, while Whistler's enemy Harry Quilter singled the nude out as "a red-haired vulgar folly". Such violent antipathy caused Whistler to take notice of the work to discover that the offending Venus was in fact his mistress. Furious at what he considered to be a slur on his reputation, he broke off relations with Stott.