The Nude in painting: history and modernity

Niu, or images of nudity, – one of the fundamental genres of painting. So it was in prehistoric times (remember the stone “Venus”). Throughout human history artists have the greatest interest in a naked body, which has not subsided to this day. "Nudes" in painting the 21st century has incorporated centuries-old experience of the body image.

the Ancient world

the ancient artist had seen in body image (primarily female) symbol of fertility and endowed it with appropriate proportions. With the development of civilization changed and the canons of the image of man: Ancient Egypt appeared first canonical images of people, which subsequently yielded the palm to the Greek sculptures and frescoes.

In Ancient Greece the cult of the naked body reached the climax – nudity was not considered indecent and provocative, image athletically stacked bodies was carried out in full accordance with the anatomy and the discoveries of scientists (the Golden ratio is an example).

the Era of Christianity: the middle Ages

With the spread of Christianity Nude in painting sharply passed their position – nakedness became the personification of sinfulness and demonic temptations. Nevertheless, illustrate some biblical scenes could not do without the nudity.

By the end of the middle Ages, nudity has lost its status of forbidden fruit, and with the onset of the Renaissance began a new flourishing of painting, including the Nude. Anthropocentrism characteristic of the thinkers of the Renaissance, embodied in the visual arts. Nude in the paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci and other artists of the time became an integral part of their secular paintings and Church murals. Saw really more recognizable styles – the piles of massive bodies of the same Michelangelo hard not to know.

New time

In the sixteenth century again there was a departure from naturalness, aesthetic values have changed and a new Canon of beauty, which includes unnaturally elongated body proportions. Soon, under the influence of the Counter-reformation nudity again came under censure of the Church. But beginning in the sixteenth century mannerism again gave way to naturalness. This period gave rise to great masters such as Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Rubens, showed the human body in its entirety, whatever that meant. They portrayed not only the beauty, but also disadvantages. Nude in paintings by these artists are characterised by deep psychological analysis.
Onset of the period of classicism (XVIII century) put an end to psychological research. This time marked a return to the ancient tradition with its strict ideal of beauty. But the longer this period is, the more degenerated the tradition, and by the middle of the XIX century classicism mutated in the dry academism characteristic of the official painting of the time.

a Protest was lodged by the Impressionists – “the luncheon on the grass” and “Olympia" Manet, causing a scandal, became the beginning of a new era. Nude in painting has finally got rid of the sanctimonious pseudomoral and gained true freedom.


In the early twentieth century, the era of freedom. Every artist has a right to interpret the human body in their own way, which gave a great result. "Avignon girl" Picasso and the girl naturortopatic Matisse, prostitutes, Georges Rouault – a slap in the face to the traditional arts that gave rise to the art of the new century.
Many went the way of simplification, the other – obstretrician. The Nude in modern painting – the subject of free artistic interpretation, the result of which becomes the entire spectrum of this trend, from abstraction to hyperrealism.