This exhibition aims to show how artists portrayed eroticism in paintings and drawings of both male and female nudes as well as subject paintings. These subject paintings were veiled attempts at legitimising titillating subjects and would have been all to obvious to the 17th and 18th Century viewer. Later paintings became more obvious and brazen in their portrayal as attitudes relaxed and this reflects directly into art.
A popular subject matter throughout the centuries changing tastes, sentiments and prudishness can be charted through its development as a theme.
Traditionally the nude in Western art is thought to have begun in ancient Greece although arguably the first nude is art is the so called ‘Willendorf Venus’ from around 30,000BC. The rise of Christianity led to a dramatic decrease in the depiction of the naked figure (with the exception perhaps of Adam and Eve). This was reversed with the early awakenings of the Renaissance and the study of the classical nude and anatomy.
Naturalism began to creep in during the 17thCentury and more realistic depictions of the naked body became typical. Representations became more liberal and frivolous through the centuries (particularly in the 18thCentury) until the forthright images we see in the early 20thCentury.