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Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, as She Goes to Bed is a painting by English artist
William Etty, first exhibited in 1830. It shows a scene from the
Herodotus, in which
Candaules, king of
Lydia, invites his bodyguard
Gyges to hide in the couple's bedroom and watch his wife Nyssia undress. After Nyssia notices Gyges, he kills Candaules and takes his place as king. The painting shows the moment at which Nyssia, unaware of Gyges, removes the last of her clothes. Etty hoped to impart the moral that women are not chattels and that men violating their rights should be punished, but he made little effort to explain this to audiences. The painting was immediately controversial, seen as a cynical combination of pornography and a violent unpleasant narrative, and critics condemned it as an immoral work of the type they would not expect from a British artist. In 1929 it was among several artworks transferred to the newly expanded
Tate Gallery, where it remains. (
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