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The Body Beautiful: Artists Draw The Nude

Exhibition Opens December 14, 1999

December 9, 1999

LOS ANGELES--The Body Beautiful: Artists Draw the Nude (1440-1850), on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from December 14, 1999 through February 27, 2000, will explore how drawings of the human figure evolved over 400 years. The exhibition will feature approximately 28 drawings from the Getty Museum’s permanent collection. These include works by Rubens, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Blake, Boucher, and Courbet and range from anatomical studies to sensuous drawings of women.

Mastering the depiction of the nude figure has long been a cornerstone of an artist’s training. Classical form prevailed through the Renaissance. Male nudes were drawn with finely detailed, strongly defined musculature. High regard for scientific realism was expressed in intricate, analytical drawings. Artists later became fascinated with the body’s movement. Guercino’s Study of a Seated Young Man (about 1619-20) shows this more naturalistic and expressive depiction of the human form.

In the 17th century, artists drew a softer female figure imbued with the values of love and desire. Rubens helped revolutionize the depiction of the nude and defined a new, more corpulent standard of female beauty. In his Studies of Women (1628), Rubens drew with red chalk to convey the earthy, living aspects of his models.

The female nude became more sensual during the late 18th century. An example is Pierre-Paul Prud’hon’s graceful Study of a Female Nude (about 1800), a recent Getty Museum acquisition. Gustave Courbet’s powerful and innovative Standing Female Nude (1849) incorporated the 19th-century forces of realism and photography by emphasizing the physicality of his female model.

Other exhibition highlights include Michelangelo’s The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the Baptist (about 1530), Hendrick Goltzius’ Venus and Mars Surprised by Vulcan (1585), François Boucher’s Venus and Cupid (about 1750), and William Blake’s Satan Exulting over Eve (1795).

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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