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Reviewing Paintings - Essay Example

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The essay discovers the phenomenon of Nudity in the context of art. Nudity is often a sensitive subject, as many are offended by it due to their cultural and religious backgrounds. However nudity often appears in art. Not only is it received differently by people from varying backgrounds…
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Reviewing Paintings
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Download file to see previous pages In the paper "Nudity and 19th Century Americans" the focus will be placed on American attitudes towards nudity during the 19th century. In order to gauge the American response, three art works containing nudity at varying degrees will be analyzed for the responses that they inspired from this population. The works featured here include Nymph with Bittern by William Rush, Ariadne Asleep on the Island of Naxos by John Vanderlyn and Raphaelle Peale’s Venus Rising from the Sea-A Deception. Nymph with Bittern is a statue of a woman who is draped from the waist down. Upon her shoulder she bears the weight of a bittern. This statue had been created specifically for public display. After the Yellow Fever epidemic, the city of Philadelphia built their first water treatment facility which was located in what William Penn had decided would be the town center. The center was a place where all of the government buildings were to be located, however the area sat empty for a while, as Penn’s carefully designed plans were not followed. Rush carved the statue and it was placed in this center. There were no major uprisings or protests because of this stature. The level of nudity displayed seems to have been acceptable among the people. Rush’s work was appreciated and he was commissioned to create other works. On the contrary, the work of Vanderlyn was not so well received. Vanderlyn is considered to be the first American painter to use nudes. In his painting the woman lying on the grass is totally nude accept. for a small piece of cloth on her thigh. It was Vanderlyn’s mission to enhance the tastes of the American people. He had studied abroad in France and this overseas education influenced his work. Of the painting it has been reported that “…when it was first displayed in America in 1815, its sensual approach caused controversy and as late as the 1890s, when it was firmly ensconced in the Pennsylvania Academy’s collection, there protests against its ‘flagrant indelicacy’ and calls for it to be removed from display” (Venus Observations 2009). For a while the painting resided in the home of Asher B. Durand who had a great appreciation for it. However, Durand kept the painting covered with a veil so that it would no offend his guests (Lane 1999). Raphaelle Peale felt that all of the controversy over paintings of nudes was ridiculous. He was a friend of Durand and had taken interest, not only veiled painting, but in people’s attitudes towards nude paintings. As it was reported “…Raphaelle Peale, chose to satirise this prudery in a painting of his own” (Lane 1999). Even his father held the position that such paintings should be covered up. Peale however did not agree. To prove a point and scoff at the conservatives Peale created Venus Rising from the Sea-A deception. The painting is of a woman who is rising from her bath, but see cannot be seen because she is behind a sheet that is secured to a clothes line. The sheet, however, is exquisite. The history of these three works of art demonstrates that there was some tolerance to nudity amongst Americans in the 19th century. The statue by Rush, Nymph with Bittern, seems to have been acceptable. The woman in it is only partially nude. However, when it came to full nudity the people gathered to protest. Full ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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