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Laurits Tuxen - Male Nude in the Studio of Bonnat (1877)

Martin Ferdinand Quadal - Life Class in the Vienna Academy (1787)

Strike a pose! For Today’s December Double I’ve selected two works which show models at work, ‘Male Nude in the Studio of Bonnat’ by Danish painter Laurits Tuxen and ‘Life Class in the Vienna Academy’ by Moravian-Austrian painter Martin Ferdinand Quadal.

Let’s begin with ‘Studio of Bonnat.’ Tuxen's vertical composition is framed to accommodate the model, who is turned away from our vantage point while posing toward the sunlight, providing a wonderful highlight of his figure and effectively casting his backside in shadow. This is a great, dramatic rendering of the nude form, though Tuxen piece also directs our attention the painters in the background, seen creating their own works from this same subject standing before us. I love how the model towers over everyone within the scene, including that of our own vantage point, commanding this nude figure an admirable power, as he were a beautiful Apollo gracing his presence amongst the mortals. By use of perspective and light, Tuxen grants his nude an almost godlike stature.

Quadal's painting, on the other hand, demonstrates use of a more flattened perspective, representing his subjects from a distance so that one does not dwarf the other, as illustrated in Tuxen's piece. Though this approach by Quadal has a traditional, formal quality, his use of lighting, which to me resembles that of a movie studio—complete with crew gathered around the actor—gives a very modern feel to this 18th century painting. When first viewing 'Vienna Academy', this took me completely off guard. I would assume this space, designed specifically for figure study, was constructed to let natural light down in through the ceiling, or perhaps there's a more reasonable explanation, but nonetheless this work inadvertently achieves the look of modern interior lighting, and I think that's fantastic.

On an added note, the presentation of our model in 'Vienna Academy' strikes me as almost clinical, as if he were a specimen on observation. Given his role as model, perhaps that’s not too far off the mark. Whether or not this detached quality within the painting was intended by the artist, I find this notion fascinating and a great topic for discussion.

Date: 2016-12-23 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A part of me is wondering if this sort of thing - the academic art studio - isn't just a ruse to paint a male nude. There's bit of a taboo over it, in the first pic, it's a very sexy, almost feminine nude pose. With the second, you can see his willy! Never seen that on an art piece.
There's a deliberate smokescreen here, all for "science" all these serious fellows concentrating on their anatomy.

The only other place I recall seeing male nudes is depictions of classical mythology, and you never see willies. Apart from Michelangelo... painting all those saints in the Sistine chapel completely nude... another painter had to add wisps of modesty cloth!

Date: 2016-12-24 02:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Great point! I really like the pose in the first painting, and personally I feel a connection to it, as in its something I would strike if I were on display. :P

And as for the second painting, my gods there's so much information within the scene, including all the eerie individual portraits--probably of those of professors at the school--and the works their students are creating using mediums. I wish I had a large file of this work to examine. I bet there are some wonderful details here!

And yes, these works do have a very "boy's club" feel to them, which I felt served as a nice contrast to the usual modeling paintings I see, which usually feature a nice woman as the model.
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