Portrait of Ida Rubenstein (1910)
Valentin Alexandrovich Serov (Russian, 1865/1911) - Portrait/Early Russian Impressionism
Location: The State Russian Museum, St Petersburg
”…Towards the end of his short life, Serov created several works in a completely new style, such as Portrait of Ida Rubinstein (1910). Ida Rubinstein was a dancer with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Serov depicts her naked, with a complete lack of idealisation. If anything, he exposes and accentuates the sharp, angular forms of her body. The picture is like a poster or a mural, terse in colour and outline. Serov spurns details and surrounding environment, concentrating all his attention on the eurhythmics that capture the true spirit of Ida Rubinstein…”  http://www.virtualrm.spb.ru/en/english

Portrait of Ida Rubenstein (1910)

Valentin Alexandrovich Serov (Russian, 1865/1911) - Portrait/Early Russian Impressionism

Location: The State Russian Museum, St Petersburg

”…Towards the end of his short life, Serov created several works in a completely new style, such as Portrait of Ida Rubinstein (1910). Ida Rubinstein was a dancer with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Serov depicts her naked, with a complete lack of idealisation. If anything, he exposes and accentuates the sharp, angular forms of her body. The picture is like a poster or a mural, terse in colour and outline. Serov spurns details and surrounding environment, concentrating all his attention on the eurhythmics that capture the true spirit of Ida Rubinstein…”  http://www.virtualrm.spb.ru/en/english


The Deluge (1835-1845)
William Etty  (1787/1849) -  The first major British painter to specialise in the nude before the 20th century
Location: V&A Museum, London 
”…Etty’s art divided public opinion during the first half of the nineteenth century more than that of any other British artist, with the possible exception of Turner.
During his 40-year career he produced a wide variety of landscapes and portraits, but is most famous for his repeated use of the female nude.
Many believed that the splendour of his richly coloured canvases was designed to disguise his underlying preoccupation with titillating forms of bodily display.
Etty was repeatedly encouraged to ‘turn from his wicked ways’ and make his art ‘fit for decent company’.
At the same time, one critic declared Etty to be ‘the greatest of all our history painters’. Another said the brilliancy of his colours were almost ‘too much for human eyes to dwell upon’.
He was described as the natural heir of the Old Masters; as ‘rivalling Rubens and the great Venetians on their own ground’.” http://www.yorkartgallery.org.uk

The Deluge (1835-1845)

William Etty  (1787/1849) -  The first major British painter to specialise in the nude before the 20th century

Location: V&A Museum, London 

”…Etty’s art divided public opinion during the first half of the nineteenth century more than that of any other British artist, with the possible exception of Turner.

During his 40-year career he produced a wide variety of landscapes and portraits, but is most famous for his repeated use of the female nude.

Many believed that the splendour of his richly coloured canvases was designed to disguise his underlying preoccupation with titillating forms of bodily display.

Etty was repeatedly encouraged to ‘turn from his wicked ways’ and make his art ‘fit for decent company’.

At the same time, one critic declared Etty to be ‘the greatest of all our history painters’. Another said the brilliancy of his colours were almost ‘too much for human eyes to dwell upon’.

He was described as the natural heir of the Old Masters; as ‘rivalling Rubens and the great Venetians on their own ground’.” http://www.yorkartgallery.org.uk

Iris Tree/Female Nude (1916)
Amedeo Clemente Modigliani ( Italien, 1884-1920) 
Location: Courtauld Institute Galleries, London, UK
”…Modigliani’s series of grand nudes dates from between 1916 and 1919. When a group of them was first shown in 1917, in what was to be the artist’s only solo exhibition during his lifetime, they caused a minor scandal. One nude, visible through the gallery window, drew a crowd of onlookers who leered at, or were shocked by, the glorious expanse of flesh. The local police chief sent an officer to order that the nudes be removed and the exhibition was temporarily disrupted. Despite this inauspicious beginning, Modigliani’s nudes are among his most famous paintings – utterly different from his images of his last muse Jeanne Hébuterne or of the friends who modelled for his portraits. Modigliani’s Female Nude is perhaps the most exceptional of all his nudes. While Modigliani has depicted the woman’s body in a naturalistic manner, her elongated face, her simplified and harmonious features are reminiscent of the geometric and perfected forms of African statuary which the artist knew and admired. Painted in late 1916, it is unusual in that it is not part of a series as are his other nudes. Instead, it is interspersed among portraits of his friends and lovers. It is also one of only a small number of seated nudes. The majority of Modigliani’s nudes were portrayed in a reclining or sleeping position.”
http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/

Iris Tree/Female Nude (1916)

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani ( Italien, 1884-1920) 

Location: Courtauld Institute Galleries, London, UK

”…Modigliani’s series of grand nudes dates from between 1916 and 1919. When a group of them was first shown in 1917, in what was to be the artist’s only solo exhibition during his lifetime, they caused a minor scandal. One nude, visible through the gallery window, drew a crowd of onlookers who leered at, or were shocked by, the glorious expanse of flesh. The local police chief sent an officer to order that the nudes be removed and the exhibition was temporarily disrupted. Despite this inauspicious beginning, Modigliani’s nudes are among his most famous paintings – utterly different from his images of his last muse Jeanne Hébuterne or of the friends who modelled for his portraits. Modigliani’s Female Nude is perhaps the most exceptional of all his nudes. While Modigliani has depicted the woman’s body in a naturalistic manner, her elongated face, her simplified and harmonious features are reminiscent of the geometric and perfected forms of African statuary which the artist knew and admired. Painted in late 1916, it is unusual in that it is not part of a series as are his other nudes. Instead, it is interspersed among portraits of his friends and lovers. It is also one of only a small number of seated nudes. The majority of Modigliani’s nudes were portrayed in a reclining or sleeping position.”

http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/


Portrait of Marie-Louise O’Murphy*  (1752)
François Boucher (French, 1703-1770) - Rococo
Location: Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany*/Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, Germany
”…Lazy Afternoon: The name of the model who has made herself  comfortable here on the sofa has been given to us by no lesser person  than Casanova. She was Marie-Louise O’Murphy, born in 1737, who had  begun work as a seamstress in Paris. The painter Boucher must have  discovered her in 1751, because from then on she was employed as his  model. Later she became the mistress of Louis XV.Lying on her stomach with her legs gracefully bent,  the naked girl is shown on a couch covered with a sumptuously patterned  yellow fabric. This choice piece of furniture must have stood in the  boudoir of one of the aristocratic palaces in Paris, leaving the  pressing question as to whether the girl really came from there. She is  looking with interest over the backrest of the couch, out of the  picture. And if the viewer wonders what it is she is looking at, the  picture’s intention has been achieved, because it is meant to awaken,  not satisfy, our curiosity. This maintains the tension.Boucher did two versions of this motif. The other  one is in the keeping of the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. And one of the  two, although it is uncertain which, was actually bought from the  painter by the Marquise de Pompadour” http://www.wallraf.museum

Portrait of Marie-Louise O’Murphy*  (1752)

François Boucher (French, 1703-1770) - Rococo

Location: Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany*/Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, Germany

”…Lazy Afternoon: The name of the model who has made herself comfortable here on the sofa has been given to us by no lesser person than Casanova. She was Marie-Louise O’Murphy, born in 1737, who had begun work as a seamstress in Paris. The painter Boucher must have discovered her in 1751, because from then on she was employed as his model. Later she became the mistress of Louis XV.Lying on her stomach with her legs gracefully bent, the naked girl is shown on a couch covered with a sumptuously patterned yellow fabric. This choice piece of furniture must have stood in the boudoir of one of the aristocratic palaces in Paris, leaving the pressing question as to whether the girl really came from there. She is looking with interest over the backrest of the couch, out of the picture. And if the viewer wonders what it is she is looking at, the picture’s intention has been achieved, because it is meant to awaken, not satisfy, our curiosity. This maintains the tension.Boucher did two versions of this motif. The other one is in the keeping of the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. And one of the two, although it is uncertain which, was actually bought from the painter by the Marquise de Pompadour” http://www.wallraf.museum


Judith I (1901)
Gustav Klimt ( Austrian,1862-1918) - Symbolism
Location: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere ,Vienna , Austria
”…At the time of its creation, Klimt’s painting Judith I,  1901 (on       the left), was considered the incarnation of the femme fatale. In  the Old       Testament, Judith is a devout widow who captivated with her beauty  the       attention of the Assyrian leader who was a deadly menace to her  people. At       the meal in her honor he drank so much wine that he fell asleep  before he       could touch her. In his sleep, Judith killed him with his own  sword,       escaped with the help of a maid and helped the Israelites defeat  the       Assyrians who were now without a leader. In the Christian  tradition,       Judith was the allegory of the victory of chastity over vice and  of       humility over arrogance. At the beginning of the Reformation and       Counter-Reformation, she became the symbol of freedom, justice and  just       beliefs. In 1840, German poet Friedrich Hebbel reinterpreted the  myth:       Judith was still a widow, but a virgin because her husband had  been       impotent. Sexually frustrated, she was attracted by the Assyrian  Holofernes and killed him as a personal vengence. In Sigmund Freud’s       interpretation of 1917, Judith agreed with Hebbel: Judith killed  the       Assyrian because he had taken her virginity. Cutting of his head  was,       according to Freud, a symbol for Holofernes’ castration. According  to       Daniela Hammer - the information on Judith comes from her  catalogue essay       - Klimt’s portrait falls in the same category: She is a strong and       independent woman who challenges male dominance, the femme fatale       symbolizes an eternal truth. Despite the fact that Klimt wrote  “Judith und Holofernes”       on the portrait’s frame, in 1905, at a Berlin       exhibition, the painting was considered to represent Salome. To  mix up such       contrary figures like Judith and Salome has a long tradition in  art       history which dates back to the 16th century. Salome was  responsible for       the killing of St. John the Baptist. For the artists of the turn  of the century,       Salome and not Judith was the incarnation of the femme fatale.  Gustave       Moreau’s painting inspired Oscar Wilde to his dramatic ballad of  1893.       Judith’s “subversive ambivalence” of the Renaissance in       Klimt’s painting largely gave way to a sensual and erotic optic:  Judith is an       icon of femininity. Whatever interpretation you prefer, one fact       remains: Judith I of 1901 is not only one of Gustav Klimt’s best       paintings, it is one of the outstanding female portraits in art history…”  http://www.cosmopolis.ch/english/cosmo11/

Judith I (1901)

Gustav Klimt ( Austrian,1862-1918) - Symbolism

Location: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere ,Vienna , Austria

”…At the time of its creation, Klimt’s painting Judith I, 1901 (on the left), was considered the incarnation of the femme fatale. In the Old Testament, Judith is a devout widow who captivated with her beauty the attention of the Assyrian leader who was a deadly menace to her people. At the meal in her honor he drank so much wine that he fell asleep before he could touch her. In his sleep, Judith killed him with his own sword, escaped with the help of a maid and helped the Israelites defeat the Assyrians who were now without a leader. In the Christian tradition, Judith was the allegory of the victory of chastity over vice and of humility over arrogance. At the beginning of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, she became the symbol of freedom, justice and just beliefs. In 1840, German poet Friedrich Hebbel reinterpreted the myth: Judith was still a widow, but a virgin because her husband had been impotent. Sexually frustrated, she was attracted by the Assyrian Holofernes and killed him as a personal vengence. In Sigmund Freud’s interpretation of 1917, Judith agreed with Hebbel: Judith killed the Assyrian because he had taken her virginity. Cutting of his head was, according to Freud, a symbol for Holofernes’ castration. According to Daniela Hammer - the information on Judith comes from her catalogue essay - Klimt’s portrait falls in the same category: She is a strong and independent woman who challenges male dominance, the femme fatale symbolizes an eternal truth. Despite the fact that Klimt wrote “Judith und Holofernes” on the portrait’s frame, in 1905, at a Berlin exhibition, the painting was considered to represent Salome. To mix up such contrary figures like Judith and Salome has a long tradition in art history which dates back to the 16th century. Salome was responsible for the killing of St. John the Baptist. For the artists of the turn of the century, Salome and not Judith was the incarnation of the femme fatale. Gustave Moreau’s painting inspired Oscar Wilde to his dramatic ballad of 1893. Judith’s “subversive ambivalence” of the Renaissance in Klimt’s painting largely gave way to a sensual and erotic optic: Judith is an icon of femininity. Whatever interpretation you prefer, one fact remains: Judith I of 1901 is not only one of Gustav Klimt’s best paintings, it is one of the outstanding female portraits in art history…”  http://www.cosmopolis.ch/english/cosmo11/

Une Odalisque (1814)
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (French,1780-1867) - Neoclassicism
Location: Louvre, Paris.
 ”… Discreently Seductive: This woman lying on a divan is  offering herself because she is nude and turns her face towards us. The  painting’s title, which means “harem woman,” and the accessories around  her conjure up the sensuous Orient. But the woman is also discreet  because she shows only her back and part of one breast. The nude was a  major theme in Western art, but since the Renaissance figures portrayed  in that way had been drawn from mythology; here Ingres transposed the  theme to a distant land. The subject of the odalisque fascinated Boucher  in the eighteenth century and was later chosen as a theme by Théodore  Chassériau (1819-1856), one of Ingres’s pupils. Throughout his career,  many of Ingres’s works feature Orientalist themes, such as The Turkish Bath (Louvre), which he painted towards the end of his life. The female  nude, historical scenes, and the portrait were Ingres’s favorite genres.
A Nude for a Queen: Caroline Murat (1782-1839),  Napoleon’s sister and the queen of Naples, commissioned this painting in  1813. It was probably a matching piece to another nude, La Dormeuse de Naples, destroyed in 1815. La Grande Odalisque was painted in Rome, where Ingres had arrived in 1806 to complete a  fellowship at the Académie de France. The artist remained in Italy until  1824 because his art was unpopular in Paris. The works he exhibited at  the Salon of 1806 (Caroline Rivière and Madame Rivière, Louvre), and the paintings he sent from Rome (The Valpinçon Bather, and Oedipus and the Sphinx, Louvre) were criticized. The exhibition of La Grande Odalisque at the Salon of 1819 confirmed that the critics didn’t understand  Ingres’s style. They admonished him for disregarding anatomical reality,  which set him apart from his teacher, Jacques Louis David (1748-1825).
Abstraction and Objectivity: Draftsmanship was very important to  Ingres. He favored long, sinuous lines - for example, the woman’s back -  creating a work of great beauty and sensuality. The volumes of the  nude, bathed in an even light, are toned down in a space without depth.  Ingres was influenced by Mannerist painting and, perhaps, by Persian  illuminated manuscripts. In contrast with the abstract lines, the  rendering of the details, such as the fabrics, is illusionistic. The  same paradoxical combination can be found in the art of the great  sculptor Antonio Canova (Eros and Psyche, Louvre). The subtle  economy of colors also sets this work apart. Ingres treated the sensual  motif with a cold harmony set off by the blue drapery. The gold of the  other fabrics helps make this odalisque a mysterious, captivating  figure…” http://www.louvre.fr

Une Odalisque (1814)

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (French,1780-1867) - Neoclassicism

Location: Louvre, Paris.


”… Discreently Seductive: This woman lying on a divan is offering herself because she is nude and turns her face towards us. The painting’s title, which means “harem woman,” and the accessories around her conjure up the sensuous Orient. But the woman is also discreet because she shows only her back and part of one breast. The nude was a major theme in Western art, but since the Renaissance figures portrayed in that way had been drawn from mythology; here Ingres transposed the theme to a distant land. The subject of the odalisque fascinated Boucher in the eighteenth century and was later chosen as a theme by Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856), one of Ingres’s pupils. Throughout his career, many of Ingres’s works feature Orientalist themes, such as The Turkish Bath (Louvre), which he painted towards the end of his life. The female nude, historical scenes, and the portrait were Ingres’s favorite genres.

A Nude for a Queen: Caroline Murat (1782-1839), Napoleon’s sister and the queen of Naples, commissioned this painting in 1813. It was probably a matching piece to another nude, La Dormeuse de Naples, destroyed in 1815. La Grande Odalisque was painted in Rome, where Ingres had arrived in 1806 to complete a fellowship at the Académie de France. The artist remained in Italy until 1824 because his art was unpopular in Paris. The works he exhibited at the Salon of 1806 (Caroline Rivière and Madame Rivière, Louvre), and the paintings he sent from Rome (The Valpinçon Bather, and Oedipus and the Sphinx, Louvre) were criticized. The exhibition of La Grande Odalisque at the Salon of 1819 confirmed that the critics didn’t understand Ingres’s style. They admonished him for disregarding anatomical reality, which set him apart from his teacher, Jacques Louis David (1748-1825).

Abstraction and Objectivity: Draftsmanship was very important to Ingres. He favored long, sinuous lines - for example, the woman’s back - creating a work of great beauty and sensuality. The volumes of the nude, bathed in an even light, are toned down in a space without depth. Ingres was influenced by Mannerist painting and, perhaps, by Persian illuminated manuscripts. In contrast with the abstract lines, the rendering of the details, such as the fabrics, is illusionistic. The same paradoxical combination can be found in the art of the great sculptor Antonio Canova (Eros and Psyche, Louvre). The subtle economy of colors also sets this work apart. Ingres treated the sensual motif with a cold harmony set off by the blue drapery. The gold of the other fabrics helps make this odalisque a mysterious, captivating figure…” http://www.louvre.fr

Lilith ( 1892)
John Maler Collier (1850-1934) - Pre-Raphaelite art movement 
Location: The Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport, England
”… Lilith here is the classical femme fatale: colors are darkened, with  evident dark yellow of the flesh (which recalls somewhat late  Renaissance nudes). Lilith finally is painted adorned by the Snake, the  very symbolic element associated with the Mesopotamia Goddess. She’s  enjoying the contact with the morbid skin of the Snake, and she seems to  completely rely upon her fascinating attitude, which could bound every  man at her feet with the same luscious strength of the snake…” http://www.szecesszio.com/2009/11/09/john-collier-27-january-1850-11-april-1934/

Lilith ( 1892)

John Maler Collier (1850-1934) - Pre-Raphaelite art movement

Location: The Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport, England

”… Lilith here is the classical femme fatale: colors are darkened, with evident dark yellow of the flesh (which recalls somewhat late Renaissance nudes). Lilith finally is painted adorned by the Snake, the very symbolic element associated with the Mesopotamia Goddess. She’s enjoying the contact with the morbid skin of the Snake, and she seems to completely rely upon her fascinating attitude, which could bound every man at her feet with the same luscious strength of the snake…” http://www.szecesszio.com/2009/11/09/john-collier-27-january-1850-11-april-1934/

Nude with Cat (1949)
Balthus (French, 1908-2001) - Modern Art
Location: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia 
”…Balthus also played with nudes, confronting the viewer with the implied question: what is more erotic, nudity or suggestion? (…) For a contemporary viewer it might elicit ruminations about how women’s identities are tied to their bodies or how we use nudity as a symbol for sex…” http://www.salon.com/2001/11/30/balthus/

Nude with Cat (1949)

Balthus (French, 1908-2001) - Modern Art

Location: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

”…Balthus also played with nudes, confronting the viewer with the implied question: what is more erotic, nudity or suggestion? (…) For a contemporary viewer it might elicit ruminations about how women’s identities are tied to their bodies or how we use nudity as a symbol for sex…” http://www.salon.com/2001/11/30/balthus/

Reclining Nude (1924-27)
Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967) - Realism/Impressionism
Location: Private Collection
”…Hopper is known as an American Scene painter. He takes pleasure in the commonplace, depicting such everyday scenes as motel rooms, filling stations, street scenes and cafeterias, this last example being defined by possibly his best known work, ‘Nighthawks’ (1942). He was preoccupied with the effect of light and shadow and the moods they evoked at different times of the day, making him in every sense an American Impressionist …”  http://www.artrepublic.com

Reclining Nude (1924-27)

Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967) - Realism/Impressionism

Location: Private Collection

”…Hopper is known as an American Scene painter. He takes pleasure in the commonplace, depicting such everyday scenes as motel rooms, filling stations, street scenes and cafeterias, this last example being defined by possibly his best known work, ‘Nighthawks’ (1942). He was preoccupied with the effect of light and shadow and the moods they evoked at different times of the day, making him in every sense an American Impressionist …”  http://www.artrepublic.com


Study for Woman Putting on Her Stocking (1894)
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864-1901) - Post- Impressionism/ Art Nouveau
Location: Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi, France.
”…In his youth Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec broke both legs. The bones failed to heal properly and his legs stopped growing. When he reached maturity his upper body was of normal size but his legs were abnormally short. This handicap triggered the nick name “Teapot” given to him by the women of pleasure; the strippers and the prostitutes of his beloved Montmartre…” http://www.ameanet.org

Study for Woman Putting on Her Stocking (1894)

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864-1901) - Post- Impressionism/ Art Nouveau

Location: Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi, France.

”…In his youth Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec broke both legs. The bones failed to heal properly and his legs stopped growing. When he reached maturity his upper body was of normal size but his legs were abnormally short. This handicap triggered the nick name “Teapot” given to him by the women of pleasure; the strippers and the prostitutes of his beloved Montmartre…” http://www.ameanet.org