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

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Victor Ferdinand Bourgeois , French Artist, (1870 - 1957). Academic Study of a Nude Boy

I was browsing eBay France this week when I happened upon an amazing academic study of a nude boy by the well listed French Artist Victor Ferdinand Bourgeois (1870 - 1957). The drawing didn’t, at first glance, look as much, but then again I took a second closer look....... As I carefully traced with my eye along the pencil lines constructing that human figure, I was simply amazed at the painterly quality of that bare essential composition and most of all the absolute mastery of depicting human anatomy the artist had obtained. Let your eye trace the figure from neck, along the shoulder, down the back to the hips then down the left leg. Then let your eye trace the line from the folded hands down and around the abdomen to the attachment of the male genitalia and it’s attachment to the body. Now follow that line down the front edge of the left leg. Now pull back and notice how the very barest of shading reinforces the volume of what that beautiful line has defined............I have come to the realization personally that I can obtain that sort of accurate depiction of the human form in such brevity only with my eye and never with my hand...........Alas, such is the way of things. Perhaps I can obtain that detail in the next life. There is more to this drawing than first meets the eye. Just follow the lines. Unlike the von Hoffmann nude study which cost an arm and a leg, I had to sacrifice just a few toes for this one. 

The following biographical information was retrieved from the Avery & Dash website regarding the artist:

“Victor-Ferdinand Bourgeois studied at the R̩gionale des Beaux-Arts in Somme and at the Arts D̩coratifs in Paris where he won major prizes. Assessed as hors-concours in 1892, which guaranteed him a place to compete in future Salons he was appointed the same year to the art directorship of the world renowned royal Manufacture Nationale de Porcelaine de S̬vres.  Bourgeois then joined the studio of the famous master Luc-Olivier Merson, who had just been elected to the Acad̩mie des Beaux-Arts.

In the 1894 Beaux-Arts competition Bourgeois came first of four hundred students and in 1897 won the Prix Chenavard, enabling him to participate in the Artistes Fran̤ais the following year. There he exhibited a vast allegorical composition which was immediately acquired by the French government. Exhibited at the 1900 World Fair, the canvas was awarded a bronze medal. Further successes followed. Active in the Parisian art world in the early years of the 20th century, Bourgeois was a founding member of the avant-garde Salon Automne, launched in 1903. Victor-Ferdinand Bourgeois’ early color palette was dark as his subject matters were formal and his style very Academic. Then the artist associated with Impressionism; the year 1907 marked a radical change in his work when Bourgeois, invited by the famous impressionist painter Armand Guillaumin to join him in Southern France, discovered its intense light and his palette definitely brightened. Together they explored the French Riviera which offered the two artists an exceptional panoramic subject and a chromatic impact that was utterly overwhelming for Bourgeois, as it had been for Guillaumin during his first visit in 1885.

 Bourgeois produced many luminous works directly from nature, later transformed into incandescent paintings and pastels. With their Fauvist touches, these works constituted a point of no return. Bourgeois had finally discovered the way forward. From that moment on, he painted Nature with the same eyes as Guillaumin, and, thanks to his colleagues, tapped into the sensibility of Monet, Sisley, Gauguin and Othon Friesz, who all loved and celebrated the Southern light. That Bourgeois had assimilated Impressionist models can be seen in the light, vibrant brushstrokes of "Nice. Le d̩part du bateau grec" painted during a winter trip to the South of France in 1907 as well as in this work depicting the famous promenade des anglais a magnet to the English aristocracy during the winter season. During this period of intense activity, Bourgeois's paintings began to appear abroad, notably in Brazil and the United States, where several were prominently featured in the International Picture Exhibitions of Buenos Aires and Pittsburg (Carnegie Institute).Enjoy.

Here are a few examples of his other works:

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Unknown 19th Century French Academy Male Nude Drawing .... General to Specific!

 Today I was browsing eBay Italy when I stumbled across a 19th century academic drawing of a standing male nude which caught my immediate attention. The phrase that I had heard repeated over and over again in my drawing and painting classes “general to specific” echoed in my memory. The drawing itself turned out to be a drawing posted for sale by that dealer in Toulouse, France who expects top Euro for his offerings and which would stretch any budget. If I haven’t just spent my entire fun money for the month on a nice example of a 1972 Hasselblad Super Wide camera for my Hasselblad SWC camera collection I would have been tempted to buy the darn drawing at the outrageous asking price. Every so often when you are chasing 19th century academic drawings you find one which exemplifies that oft repeated phrase: “general to specific!” wherein you get a perfect snapshot of a 19th century Academy trained artist’s drawing technique. You can clearly see how the student has laid in the initial drawing and is in the process of going from laying in his general flat planes of light and dark within the line drawing and then going back in from the top down laying in refined specific lights and darks within the figure. The artist must have run out of time during what must have been a timed drawing session and fortunately for us he has given us a prime example of “general to specific” in his Academic training and drawing technique. Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Albert Leusch (1877-1954) Standing Male Nude in Heroic Pose

 This drawing came into my collection several months ago. It is a graphite drawing on paper by German artist Albert Leusch (1877-1954)  and features a very familiar pose if you carefully look at it and can make a connection with a famous bronze sculpture... give up? It’s Philippides the Marathon runner by Max Kruse (1854-1942) Enjoy.

Monday, October 12, 2020

ALESSANDRO MORANI (1859-1941) - Disegno di un Ragazzo nudo Seduto - Seated Nude boy

 I almost forgot to list this small drawing of a seated nude youth that I bought several weeks ago by the listed Italian artist Alessandro Moroni (1859-1941). Morani was an Italian painter, book illustrator, and set designer who was active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although a specialist in landscapes he did not let his talents go to waste and often submitted magazine and book illustrations. He taught art at the Industrial Art Museum of Rome from 1882 to 1902. His illustrations and interior designs were influenced by the English Artists William Morris and Charles Blanchard. He collaborated in the founding of the magazine “L’Italia dell’arte Industriale’” even designing covers and posters for the magazine. Enjoy.

Here are a few of his other works in private collections and museums....