The Nude

Ever since Renaissance times the nude has symbolised an artist's view of humanity; from the idealised beauty of mythological characters to the realism of Courbet's 'The Bathers'. The bruised flesh of martyrs alternates with discreet eroticism of goddesses. From the end of the 18th century the nude in its 'academic' form became a subject for study. It was a major theme in 19th century art and reflected the many artistic movements of the period.