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a genre in the representational arts devoted to the depiction of the naked body, particularly that of a woman. The nude is neither a sketch serving educational purposes nor a preliminary painting. As a rule, its character is hedonistic. The nude developed as a distinct genre after there had been considerable use of the undraped human body in art. The nude embodies the ideal of beauty of a particular country and epoch and affirms the value of earthly sensual being.
The nude as a distinct theme arose during the Renaissance in works dealing with mythological, allegorical, historical, and genre themes. Paintings of the undraped female body by Giorgione, Titian, and Correggio embody the Italian humanists’ concept of feminine beauty and often have philosophical and poetic overtones. With the spread of the ideas of sensuality in the 17th century, the nude reached the zenith of its development. Representations of the nude body from this period are unmistakably sensual. The sumptuous baroque forms and the vivid charm of young, blossoming beauty in the works of P. P. Rubens express a sensual, optimistic attitude toward life (Hélèna Fourment With Fur Cloak, 1638–40, Museum of Art and History, Vienna). The undraped female body was the principal theme of Velázquez’ painting The Toilet of Venus (1651, National Gallery, London). Rembrandt abandoned classicizing idealism and treated the nude in an intimate and matter-of-fact manner (A Woman Bathing in a Stream, 1655, National Gallery, London).
During the 18th century, the nude became a popular genre in French rococo art. Characteristic of this period are the graceful, coquettish, and sensual nudes of F. Boucher. In the early 19th century, J. A. D. Ingres sought to contrast bourgeois reality with ideal classical canons of beauty (La Source, 1856, Louvre, Paris).
In the middle of the 19th century, academic painters, such as A. V. Bouguereau and A. Cabanel, painted cloyingly sweet nudes in an eclectic style. In contrast to the academic nudes, the early nudes of G. Courbet are emphatically democratic in tone. E. Manet abandoned the mythological setting of nude paintings by stressing the subject’s modern surroundings (Olympia, 1863, Jeu de Paume, Paris). A. Renoir treats the nude female body, bathed in air and light, as an integral part of the landscape (Nude in the Sun, 1876, Jeu de Paume, Paris). The nudes of P. Bonnard have a more lyrical and intimate quality.
In 20th-century art, the nude is usually included in a search for a new means of artistic expression. The nudes of this period are expressive but often take the form of mere formal experimentation. P. Picasso, G. Rouault, K. van Dongen, and A. Modigliani are among the artists of the 20th century who have worked in the genre.
REFERENCEClark, K. The Nude. London-New York, 1962.
K. G. BOGEMSKAIA