Gentileschi

What Naked Women Can Tell Us About Us

Reclining Nude, Jean-Frederick Bazille. Musee Fabre, France.

While I am imagining the thrill of visiting a museum again, I decided to investigate my museum-induced sense that there is a theme in paintings of female nudes. I love nudes, partly because they provide clues about the ways society has viewed women over time. Anyway, during my museum days, I noticed that some paintings of nudes reminded me of other paintings of nudes, no matter when or where they were painted — in particular, paintings of “reclining nudes.”

It turns out that a single painting inspired 500 years of artistry.

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