The Passion of Collecting Academic Nudes

Join me as we explore my collection of Academic Nudes from the 18th, 19th, and Early 20th Centuries and serendipitous finds in the Museum, Art Auction, and Gallery world......examples from the Golden Age of the European Academie

Friday, October 15, 2010

Anonymous French School 19th Century Nude Ephebe Portrait

This beautiful mid to late 19th century nude portrait of an adolescent boy originated from Paris and an unknown 19th century French Atelier. It was the first 19th century painting I bought for my collection. The artist has captured that delicate transition between boyhood and the beginning of manhood. The dark brooding good looks of the sitter is there, notice the dark beginnings of a mustache on that pouty upper lip. The real subject matter is Ganymede if I have ever seen it. The last two photographs used a flash to bring out the subdued colors, thus the difference. It is unfortunate that the artist did not sign his work.
Ganymede is an interesting iconographic figure in art history and in order to put some light on this phenomenon, let me again quote from James M. Saslow's book (actually his published Doctoral Thesis) Ganymede in the Renaissance: Homosexuality in Art and Society (ISBN 0-300-04199-3), a summary of Ganymede's importance in Renaissance Art:

"In iconographic terms, the abduction and heavenly service of the beautiful mortal youth represented the epitome of four interlinked emotions: the rapture of the pure human soul or intellect in the presence of divinity, the uplifting power of chaste earthly love, and both the delight and the disapproval associated with sexual passion, particularly in its homosexual form."


Caption: Nude Portrait of an Adolescent Boy
Artist: Anonymous
Medium: Oils on stretched canvas
Dated: circa mid to late 19th century

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