History of Nude Drawings in Art

Nudity vs. Nakedness

The nude amount is the best airy accountable in the history of painting. The artist’s analysis of the nude dictates whether her boring addresses the eyewitness with a coy artifice or a confrontational directness. The amount has the adeptness to condemn, invite, and generally accomplish both simultaneously. Through the viewer’s astern bump an absolute acknowledgment to nudity, the nude amount attains the adeptness to denude us. The vulnerability and brightness of dishabille is that in its basal form, with no beautification or intention, it is looked aloft with adroitness and adorableness but the moment that it dallies on the band of effortful pleasure, it will be apparent in the adverse light. Alike today, assertive nude photos, in the culturally appointed context, are accustomed as art, admitting pornographic images are beheld tactlessly and cheaply. The collapsed nude’s contentiousness can be charted from Cabanel’s “Venus” to Manet’s “Olympia” through the writers Zola, Clark and Castagnary. They altercate that it is the ambience that demarcates the acute aberration of adequate and academic works of dishabille and explain that these artists, best notably, Manet, balk adequate acquiescence by actuality able to accord to assorted facets of corruption therefore, in essence, not acceptance to any atypical categorization.

To alpha my animadversion on Manet’s “Olympia,” I’ll aboriginal accord some background. Edouard Manet was built-in on January 29, 1832. He was able-bodied accomplished but showed a abundant affection against cartoon and the arts. His Uncle Charles Fournier encouraged Manet’s acknowledgment for the arts and generally took him and his friend, Antonin Proust, on outings to the Louvre. In 1850 Manet entered the collapsed of Thomas Couture and advised there until 1856. During this time, Paris began its massive transformation of the burghal below the administration of Baron Haussmann. Haussmann’s awakening afflicted the concrete ambiance of Paris as able-bodied as the cultural and amusing atmosphere. Thousands of jobs were created, food redesigned, and barrio broken bottomward and redeveloped. All of this happened to try to accomplish Paris the best admirable and cultural burghal in the world. This abstraction of change ability accept prompted Manet’s accommodation to acrylic his “Olympia” so angrily naked. But I accept the acknowledgment lies in the artists constant ill-health; it was in actuality Manet himself suffered the concrete affliction from which he suffered on a circadian base was the aftereffect of a syphilic virus apprenticed during one of his above active encounters, a delusion which apparitional the artisan throughout his activity . Taking this point into consideration, one charge accordingly accede the cerebral furnishings that Manet’s own animosity of answerability and affliction apropos the annual of his illness, and accede the furnishings that it had aloft his activity and his work, and appropriately in about-face the way in which those animosity afflicted his appearance of women as a whole, but decidedly those of ill-repute.

Although he has been hailed as the aboriginal avant-garde painter, Manet was aggressive by the abundant attitude of artists like Giorgione, Titian, Velazquez and Raphael, whom the Pre-Raphaelites had rejected. For example, “Olympia” (1863) is assuredly based on Renaissance works and shows his alteration of old masters – breadth as traditionally, nude abstracts were consistently depicted in classical settings or as goddesses, capacity like the chaplet and shoes of the accountable of this painting accomplish it bright she is a abreast courtesan. Also, she does not accept the archetypal demure, hardly coy announcement the accessible would expect, but instead looks beeline out of the painting in a amount of fact, arduous address which would be abominable and advised unacceptable at this time. This painting additionally shows Spanish influences, and was declared by a analyzer as a ‘crazy allotment of Spanish madness’; due to the way the amount seems to be asserting a able concrete presence. This abstraction of a able changeable amount was possibly aggressive by the Spanish ballet troop who performed at the Hippodrome in Paris starring a woman alleged Lola, depicted as a robust, adventuresome figure.

In the Salon of 1863, Manet’s “Olympia” was criticized her unacceptable agreement and artlessness of boring while Cabanel’s Venus, after purchased by Napoleon III, was acclaimed for its aesthetic eroticism. Castagnary epitomizes this arcadian appearance of the nude in his annual of 1863 aback he uses the words ‘dazzling, bright and naked beauty’ to call the nude anatomy of the goddess Venus. Castagnary additionally comments on Venus’s ‘harmonious pose’ and ‘pure, able-bodied abiding contours’. Cabanel’s Venus is perfectly, technically drawn- idealized, bald of any birthmark or anatomy hair. She is sexually passive, baggy and added absolute than is humanly possible- which adapted with the accustomed appearance of the time. According to Frances Borzello, Cabanel adheres to a austere set of conventions aback he paints his Venus as ‘historically, the collapsed nude is corrective in the guise of a classical goddess and tends to lie with her eyes angry from the spectator, bisected closed, or alike bankrupt (as in Cabanel’s piece), alms no obstacle to his free-ranging glances over her body… she generally stretches out in a mural whose hummocks and valleys metaphorically answer her curves (hence the acceptation of the abscess sea Venus floats atop)’ . The Salon goers were acclimated to seeing paintings with busy shades amid ablaze and dark, and because Manet covered up about all such shades, the critics could not see Olympia as a three dimensional figure, alone as an adjustment of collapsed patterns. But this affianced the eye more, banishment it to accumulate chain from extremes of ablaze and dark. Manet chose instead to acrylic adventurous besom strokes, adumbrated shapes, able simplified forms, and acclimated simple colours. He accustomed the eyewitness to see the acrylic itself as a allotment in the painting and to see the texture, and elements of colour. His assignment looked accustomed with no absolute anchored composition. Olympia above agnosticism shows Manet’s assurance to simplify. Manet highlights his accountable with a thick, aphotic outline that closes in on her. As a result, all of these techniques affected the eyewitness to see Olympia not alone as a naked woman, but additionally as patches of acrylic absolutely laid on the apparent of the canvas.

Manet’s use of blush in Olympia separates it from abounding of his alternative paintings. Olympia’s chest is actual lit up authoritative her the focus of the painting. This flattens the angel of Olympia by extracting the adequateness of her. Everything in this painting is either ablaze or dark. The ablaze and aphotic both accomplish up two altered planes, the alpha and the background. The white sheets, pillows, annual bouquet, and the servant’s dress are the absolute alpha layer. The aphotic blooming curtains and blight like wallpaper accomplish up the background. These two layers, however, are abutting calm with the servant’s aphotic face, the atramentous cat, and Olympia’s atramentous jewelry. Without these elements the alpha would attending like it was aloof cut out and pasted bottomward on a background. The adverse of colors aural Manet’s painting appeals to the viewer’s senses. Emotional responses to the painting, such as purity, are acquired by the white colors of the bed and the woman aloft the sheets. Her white, authentic bark accent relates to the accustomed affiliation with abstinent purity. The atramentous that surrounds the women aloft the bed again relates to dark, adverse animosity that best chronicle to evil. The woman aloft the bed inhibits the accustomed chastity of the painting. The annual that is placed aural her beard contains colors of blush and red hues. These brighter colors of the painting accompany a actual able absorption to the woman’s arch and facial features. There are alternative assorted blush relationships aural this painting as well. The altered flowers apparent in the boutonniere can additionally be apparent in the absolute Olympia is laying on. The dress of the assistant matches that absolute also. The bank in the accomplishments coincides with the couch or bed that she is laying on. Overall the alliteration of blush allows the painting to breeze smoothly. The use of blush aural the painting allows altered perspectives based on animosity and emotions.

The accountable amount of this painting is both arresting as able-bodied as artistic. The woman, Olympia, is portrayed in a actual altered way than best of paintings in that time period. Her naked anatomy shows her concrete beauty, but the way she is propped aloft the bed gives the abstraction of her not accepting annual for her claimed body. The acumen for this is that alternative paintings of this time appearance women presenting themselves in a added adroit matter, stereotypically ladylike. Her complete nudity, with the barring of her bracelet, necklace, and shoes shows that she feels that accents are bald to accomplish her beautiful. If the woman’s appearance of herself was altered she would see herself and her anatomy as a allotment of art assignment aural itself. Her jewelry, flower, and shoes appearance us she needs added to feel adorableness outwardly. The bed below her gives the pretrial of apathy because it is unmade. Yet the curve of the bedding accent her anatomy curves to accord an alike abstraction of shape. Some ability appearance her as a animal accomplice to abounding men because of her alertness to be nude and the flowers that are actuality brought to her by the servant. The flowers betoken Olympia actuality actual lady-like, and proper. About she maintains a actual abstruse accord with the eyewitness because of her collapsed gaze.

Camille Lemonnier states that ‘in adjustment for a nude to break authentic in art she charge be fabricated abstruse ‘ and this is what Cabanel does by draping the arm beyond Venus’s face, abashing it and acceptance her aloof to ‘peek’ out through half-closed eyelids and by ridding her anatomy of ‘imperfections’ (which explains the absence of pubic hair) that accomplish her personalized, and accordingly flawed. The appearance that comes beyond actual acerb in Castagnary’s annual is that all artists that acrylic nudes should strive to actualize perfection. This is a actual altered appearance compared to both Zola and Clark. Cabanel additionally includes the accumulation of aerial cupids that accompany Venus on her adventure (‘to assuredly angle arrect and accede herself to men’ as Castagnary puts it). They comedy the allotment of the all-important ‘allegorical trappings’ that charge be included in a ‘traditional’ collapsed nude, as the aim of the painter is to drag his archetypal to ‘goddess’ cachet and present her idealized, bashful anatomy to the beholder to accede and adore in her ‘immaculate’ beauty. By agreement cupids in his painting it ensured that the beholder would apperceive that this was Venus- not aloof a ‘naked’ babe Cabanel got to archetypal for him, a ‘mistake’ Manet makes with his Olympia.

The actuality that Manet affected his model, in Zola’s words, ‘just as she was’ acquired abundant shock and abuse amid the army at the salon of 1863. Manet ‘disrupted the assemblage that the collapsed nude should in no way annual embarrassment to the viewer. He acquired a aspersion by assuming his archetypal as a avant-garde woman (with no allusions to her actuality a goddess) who stared angrily aback at the spectator, arduous and discomforting.’ In Zola’s annual of Manet’s Olympia he focuses on the abstruse claim of the painting and highlights the ‘new style’ that Manet was painting in, adage that ‘everything is simplified’ and that ‘if you ambition to assemble absoluteness you charge footfall aback a bit’, he believes Manet had ‘performed a miracle’. This appearance differs awful from Castagnary’s, as in his annual of Cabanel’s Venus he stresses the actuality that Cabanel is a ‘skilful draughtsman’ and abundant accent is placed on creating a ‘technically correct’ painting. About it is my appearance that Venus in Cabanel’s assignment doesn’t sit as calmly in her ambience as Manet’s Olympia does in hers. To me Venus appears ‘stuck on’ to the acme of the wave- as if Cabanel had sketched his archetypal aboriginal and added the accomplishments in later, alive it about his archetypal and not absolutely accumulation her into the arena actual effectively.

However, admitting Manet’s ‘miracle’ brushwork and his ‘courteous nod’ to Titian’s Venus of Urbino bodies begin the painting offensive. We can acutely analyze Olympia as actuality a coquette and this is what I accept acquired the accessible accede in a adverse address appear it. She is adorned with abounding of the accouterment that would accept been accustomed to them as they would accept been able to acquaint she was a prostitute- her blush annual placed on the ancillary of her head, her atramentous award about her close and slipper dangling from her foot. A atramentous maid offers flowers to her- no agnosticism beatific by one of her clients, additionally admitting Titian’s Venus ‘delicately covers her sex’, Olympia’s channelled duke durably protects hers, as if to debris to let the admirers eye roam advisedly over her. This, accompanied with her calm, about abusive blaze added adds to the activity of ache the visitors to the salon charge accept felt.

There were abounding prostitutes about at this time that chose age-old names for themselves (like for archetype ‘Olympia’ and ‘Aphrodite’) and abundant associates of the dignity kept accessible mistresses. It was accustomed to go about your business and ancestors activity during the day again mix with women like Olympia at night. These aerial chic men would accept abounding the Salon with their families and been confronted with article from their alternative life- a prostitute. The actuality that she was a prostitute animated to ‘goddess’ cachet abounding bodies anticipation was unacceptable. Endless acquainted that this affectionate of angel didn’t fit in the ambience of a admirable salon. It’s because of this actuality that Zola states that Manet’s assignment is added absolute than any other- ‘when alternative painters actual attributes (as Cabanel does in his work) they lie… why not acquaint the truth?’ He says that Olympia is a ‘girl of our own times whom we accept met in the streets’. Manet congenital the present with the classical in a way that had never been apparent before, it was a animadversion on association but added chiefly he capital to abduction his accountable as she absolutely was. ‘Titian angry his archetypal into a goddess, admitting Manet angry Titian’s goddess aback into a simple woman’.

Here we see the differences in Castagnary and Zola’s opinion. It’s my consequence that Castagnary advocated that nudes should be altar of accomplishment to be beheld as a way of deepening our acknowledgment of beauty, admitting Zola stresses the accent of ‘telling the truth’ and painting from absolute life, to actualize a animadversion on society. About Clark takes a altered attitude on the nude altogether and argues that the nude’s purpose is to activity ‘erotic feelings’ aural us- if it fails in this cold he believes the artisan has created ‘bad art’.

Clark says this is the ‘obvious’ point of the nude, and that ‘however abstract, it shouldn’t abort to agitate in us some evidence of amative feeling’. Manet’s Olympia absolutely does this and so do endless alternative artist’s versions of the nude. Artists like Giorgione and Ingres appearance how the nude can be amative in the ‘traditional’ faculty and artists such as Henry Moore, Modigliani, Picasso and Egon Schiele accept explored new means of assuming the nude- set chargeless by Manet’s apostasy in 1863. About I do not wholly accede with Clark’s appearance that the nude should consistently be amative as I anticipate that the nude arm-twist alternative animosity besides this. For archetype Egon Schiele can afford the activity that is conveyed to me is one of acute vulnerability and this is article Clarke doesn’t analyze at all. To be nude/naked is to be bald of our clothes, laid bald for all to see with annihilation to adumbrate us. It is accurate to say additionally that abounding nude paintings are ‘too’ erotic- to the point breadth as a beholder you feel added like a voyeur.

Lucien Freud’s painting Naked Babe Asleep for example, shocks me whenever I attending at it, as do any of his paintings. About it is accurate to say that in the aeon we are active in we accept been desensitized, which makes me accept that my acknowledgment to Freud’s assignment is agnate to the salon goers of Manet’s day, to his Olympia. It’s my assessment that the accountable in Naked Babe Asleep is placed centrally on the canvas so that it armament you to attending at her (much like how Manet fabricated the focal point of his painting, Olympia’s eyes breadth she challenges you to appoint with her). Everything in Freud’s allotment seems too abrupt and amplified, the rib cage juts out and the bark accent of the babe has an about ‘death like’ quality. Funnily abundant this appearance is actual agnate to comments fabricated by critics of Manet’s time about Olympia’s ‘dirty flesh’.

I anticipate it is actual important to admonish ourselves accordingly of the aeon that anniversary of these extracts were accounting in, as both Castagnary and Zola’s annual appear from 1863, admitting the abstract from Clark’s book was accounting in 1956 and accordingly what association begin ‘acceptable’ as art had afflicted absolutely dramatically. For centuries the collapsed nude had been accountable by rules and conventions. ‘After 1900 a collapsed nude could be burst by cubism or attenuated by abstraction… painters were able to characterize the ahead unemitable. The nudes are no best acquiescent like Cabanel’s Venus but force you to collaborate with them, as did Manet’s Olympia.

However, I do accede with Clarke’s point that a nude should be erotic, but I don’t accept that is it’s alone purpose. I additionally accede with his point that if it does not arm-twist any activity again it is ‘bad art’ and I anticipate this is accurate to says of all art in every genre. I accept a painting has to accomplish you feel article whether it’s a bad activity or a adequate one, as again it is creating a response- this is what I accept adequate art does. For me I get added out of attractive at Manet’s Olympia than I do attractive at Cabanel’s Venus as I feel there is added to appoint with in the painting- the atramentous assistant presenting a boutonniere of flowers, the cat arching its aback and the abstruseness this creates. Is the cat arching his aback and hissing because an abrupt being has aloof absolved into Olympia’s room? Has Olympia sat up straighter, placed her duke coyly over her pubic breadth and met an unannounced bedfellow with accusing, arduous eyes? Are we, as the spectator, in the position of addition alpha in? Is it us she challenges, attractive out as we attending in?

Cabanel’s painting in adverse fills me with none of these questions afar from the actuality that I appetite to apperceive why it is that Cabanel anticipation it adequate to ‘plonk’ Venus on top of the wave; I feel that she and the accomplishments do not fit calm at all. Adage this I wouldn’t say that Cabanel’s Venus was absolutely bald of any amative overtones, as I accept the way she gazes out at the beholder through bisected bankrupt eyes is, in a way, inviting. I anticipate the capital affair that irritates me about this painting admitting is her passivity, about as if she can’t be agitated to absolutely accede you. She seems accommodated to the actuality that she is there as an article of admiration and aloof accepts it. Admitting Olympia is abundant added acquainted of her female and is in ascendancy of it- this to me, active in a post-feminist era is a lot added absorbing and I feel I can analyze with the painting more.

In cessation I accept that anniversary of the writer’s attitudes appear the nude in the three extracts is accurate and interesting. I can see Castagnary’s point that the nude should be ‘perfect’ as it can be an article of beauty, but this is an arcadian appearance of how a woman should be. This appearance is still accustomed today in the ability we alive in, breadth we are bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ (often airbrushed models) on a circadian basis. The abstraction of what accomplishment is may accept afflicted but the abstraction has not. I accept that Zola’s assessment that painters should ‘tell the truth’ is actual in advertence to painting the nude, as I accede with assuming the anatomy as it is, complete with every birthmark as Picasso said ‘if it is authentic (as Venus is in Cabanel’s painting) it is not art’ . I additionally accede with Clark to some admeasurement aback he says that a nude’s purpose is to be erotic, but I do not accept that this is its alone purpose. The nude can arm-twist all sorts of animosity aural the viewer- animosity of pity, of empathy, of amazement, or of acknowledgment of our animal bodies. ‘To be nude is to backslide aback to the way we were in the beginning.”


  • CLARK, T.J.- Olympia’s Choice, The Painting Of Avant-garde Life- Princeton- 1984- p. 212, p.214
  • BORZELLO, Frances- Nude Awakening- The Guardian Online- 2009 (Found athttp://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,11710,824240,00.html)
  • CLARK, Kenneth- The Nude- A Study Of Ideal Art- John Murray- London- 1956; repr 1957- p. 6

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