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Nude study
Nude study

From the 16th century, artistic training included the study of human anatomy. Italian Renaissance artists produced drawings based on antique models and drew their inspiration from the theories of Vitruvius in order to create the ideal body. Despite the practice being condemned by the Church, some artists even carried out human dissection. Leonardo da Vinci has been credited with producing the first examples of anatomical drawings of écorché figures (studies of human figures depicting the muscular structure). Michelangelo held a fascination for the human body, carefully studying muscle structure and exulting in anatomical perfection. German artists of the same period offer a more sensual and often more crude pictures of the reality of the human body. In a definitive break away from the classical ideal, Rembrandt's nude studies convey a certain vulgarity. The Venetian masters and the Flemish artist, Rubens, also broke away from the Renaissance style by drawing voluptuous nudes. In the 18th century the nude as a genre evolved to the point of becoming ethereal and even frivolous as depicted by artists such as Boucher. Nude representation took on its own particular character in the 19th century with the advent of academic study and painting using living models. Neo-classical style based on antique models gave way to a sharp realism in the middle of the century. Models posing for artists and nude studies painted in the studio made the depiction of the body so common that that women bathing and later prostitutes became key subjects. 
Nude study forms the basis of all artistic training and provides an understanding of the beauty, complexity and reality of the human body.
Pollaiuolo Antonio (1429-1498)
Paris, musée du Louvre, D.A.G.
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