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

Saturday, January 22, 2011

LOVERS (Adam & Eve and a Moral Lesson?) 16th Century Nude Print

I'll swear, this has to be the weirdest composition of the male and female nudes I think I have ever run across. I guess even patrons of the arts in the 16th century got randy on occasion and needed a little visual stimulation. They couldn't just run down to the news stand and pick up a copy of their favorite skin magazine. This certainly fits the bill for satisfying some urge someone had or a way of preaching to the masses. Cupid and Death doing what they were intended to be doing. My Latin is rusty. Perhaps someone out there can translate the inscription. I love the expression on the female's face. She looks like she knows exactly what she wants and aims (no pun intended, well maybe so) to get it, or him, or something. She is definitely determined and has a good grip (oops, I did it again) on things. Nice work if you can get it. Old death is already enjoying the view with that erection. I think I can die happy now. I've seen it all now as far as artistic composition is concerned.
Alright, mystery solved. It is a moral lesson. The Latin phrase "Mors Ultima Linea Rerum" translates to: "Death, The Final Boundary of Things" after Horace. The concept is usually associated with a quotation from Prosper Tiro of Aquitaine:

"You flourish in wealth, and boast of the society of the great and powerful; you rejoice in the beauty of the body and the honors which men pay to you. Consider yourself, that you are mortal, that you are earth and into the earth you shall go."

Now there's a lesson to remember and to live by.

Anonymous Figure Study - Late 19th Century - Male Nude Torso

These beautiful late 19th century academic studies keep popping up on eBay France. I never tire of seeing the painterly techniques of 19th century artists on display. This work is apparently unsigned and undated but what interests me is the use of color, realistic flesh tones, and more importantly, in the artist's technical drawing skills and application of paint to canvas. I wish I were more educated in the 19th century palette for flesh tones. It is interesting how the actual application of paint progresses in the execution of this fine study. If you look very closely at the way the artist has applied the brush strokes you will see a carry over from the 19th century drawing technique: hatching. Hatching was the technique of applying distinct parallel strokes to model the form, and if necessary, a second set of strokes at the opposite angle on top, to produce cross-hatching. I am sure if you look long enough you will see variations of the other techniques of graining, allowing the weave of the canvas to carry the shadow areas, and stumping, the blending of lights and darks. This artist clearly had all the prerequisites for success in his chosen profession.

James Camille Lignier (1858-1926) Le Christ en croix sur le Mont Golgotha - 1903

This nice work by the French painter James Camille Lignier (1858-1926)(please note that there are discrepancies in his date of birth and date of death. Some sources list his date of death as 1914) is presently listed on eBay France. It may not look like a traditional academic study, as in student works, but to my eye it is an academic study of the male figure. The religious theme seemed to have been an excuse to draw and paint the male nude, or semi-nude in this case, for public consumption without the stigma of being crass. The thing about it that drew my artistic eye is its painterly execution. Lignier was of Burgundian origin and his works clearly fall into the Symbolist Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of Lignier's paintings received an honorable mention at the Salon of 1883. I do think that this work is well within the academic tradition of the late 19th century. In this study the artist tries to represent the figure with an authenticity without idealization of his model. I have always been interested in these particular religious themes, i.e. The Deposition and Christ on the Cross, in regards to the late 19th century academic tradition and as studies of the male form. Lignier's oevure was exhibited in 1903-1904 at the famous Galerie Georges Petit in Paris.

Caption: Le Christ en croix sur le Mont Golgotha, Oevure exposee en 1903-1904 a la Galerie Georges Petie
Artist: James Camille Lignier (1858-1926)
Medium: Oils on Canvas
Dated: ca. 1903

Here are additional examples of Lignier's works:

Bord de la Creuse a Crozant..

Grand Pere...

Hunting for Skylarks...

Friday, January 21, 2011

J. Bellange (?): Nu Academique Jeune Homme - Nude Male Youth - 1905

I managed to buy this nice Academic Male Nude executed in pastels, signed and dated J. Bellange 1905, from a seller in France this afternoon. I have one other pastel from around 1900 by an anonymous student at the Art Students League in NYC which I will post later. It is not as nice color wise when compared to this one. I will re-photograph this fine catch when it arrives later and post additional photographs. I could not find any information on the artist. There is a famous family of French artists with the same last name dating back to the late 18th century but I doubt any of them produced this nice work. The 1905 date seems to be beyond their life spans.

Francis Humphrey William Woolrych (1868-1941) Semi-Nude Boy, Male Nudes, The Thorn Picker - From The Antique

Francis Humphrey William Woolrych (1868-1941) was born in Australia to English parents. He studied fine arts at the Royal Academy of Berlin and later at the Academe des Beaux Arts in Paris in the late 1880's. It was in Paris that he met his wife, Bertha Hewitt, a distinguished artist in her own right. Following their years in Europe, they came to St. Louis where they made their home. His speciality was nudes, landscapes, and portraits.
These five beautiful 19th century drawings came into my collection from a seller in California who had apparently bought a number of drawings from the estate of a relative of the artist. The relative had stored them for years and his or her heirs decided to liquidate their holdings of the artist's drawings. I was fortunate enough to outbid a long stream of bidders on these five really gorgeous drawings. They are from Woolrych's student years in Paris during the latter part of the 19th century (1880's). All are student works of crayon on paper with the exception of the Thorn Picker which is pencil on paper. Enjoy.

Here are a few examples of his other works:

wardrobe .. Paintings attributed to the Artist