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Essay about Nudity in Art History

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The word nude entered in the English dictionary in 1531, as a legal term "unsupported, not formally attested", from Latin nudus 'naked, bare'. It will be, in the eighteenth century, used to describe a painting or other artwork depicting a human figure in a state of near or total undress.
While the word nude has becoming positive in art history, due to the large use of it over the years, the word naked has been always negative. In fact, its definition is “having no clothes on, having no defence or protection, unprovided with needful or desirable accessories”. (1.)

Art historians dated the first nude back to around 30-25,000 BC, when a small statuette of a corpulent woman, called the Willendorf Venus, was adored as a goddess. Being naked and being embarrassed about that, will increase after the raise of Christianity, during Medieval Era, when the only nude figures in art were Adam and Eve.
Analysing, in fact, Egyptian and especially Greek art, historians realized how being naked was part of their ordinary life. All the Greek’s Gods or heroes were, indeed, naked. Also, they used to participate naked to the Olympic Games.
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From the 13th Century on, artists begun to rediscover classical antiquity and the nude started to appear again in art history. Artists such as Leonardo, Michelangelo and later on Titian were seriously interested in anatomy and drawing from life become part of workshop practice. But, the scenes depicted were only exclusively mythological or religious and the nudes were idealised. In the 17th Century, artists such as Caravaggio and later on Rubens used the nude in a more naturalistic way, though they were still used primarily in history or religious paintings.



1. http://www.wordvia.com/dictionary
During the 18th...


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...ring the Victorian period the relationship between artists and models has always been a problem for the society because caused moral issues.
Orpen and his contemporaries are showing that a sexual relationship with the model is, sometimes, true and they don’t bother about that.
Another work that shows a sensual and new nude representation is Early morning (Plate 10). This painting was exhibited in 1922, so it can’t be included in the Victorian’s painting but it is, in my opinion, very important to see the progress the society has made in acceptance of the nude. The way he depict this young woman is, for me, brilliant. She is naked but, in my opinion, her expression shows that she’s very comfortable. She is, in fact, sitting with her legs crossed on a bed, drinking tea and reading letters. She is looking far away from the viewer and she seems absorbed in her thoughts



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