If you think that nude fine artworks emerged recently, you are wrong. Dead wrong. The depiction of men and women in nakedness has been a part of art in the Western World and the in the Far East since time immemorial.
Nude Fine Arts in Ancient Greece
The depiction of men and women in the nude first begun ancient Greece when sculptors and painters depicted gods, goddesses, and athletes in the nude to celebrate the male and female bodies.
The male body was particularly depicted in a very positive light especially in the form of sculptures. This is because of the popularly held Greek belief that the male body is the embodiment of all that is good in humanity.
The portraiture of the naked female body also begun in ancient Greece in the form of figurines. Legend has it that the Greeks regarded naked female figurines as the embodiment of divinity, fertility, and procreation.
Greek goddesses such as Aphrodite were among the first subjects of sculptors and painters. Later, mistresses and famous women were also depicted on canvases and carved as figurines and statues.
As the Hellenistic era rumbled on, nude fine arts portraiture became more common. The long Roman era also saw the continued advancement of the nude in fine arts. Images and sculptures of men and women in nakedness adorned not only private homes but also public baths, temples, and tombs.
According to several art critics, the depiction of men and women in the nude in the Hellenistic era (the Greek era), and the Roman era was not to merely create eroticism but to celebrate youth, athleticism, health, fertility, and geometric clarity.
In other words, they were meant to stimulate not only passions but also the mind.
Read complete nude photography guide here
Nude Fine Arts and Christianity
Despite the strongly growing nude fine arts movement, the spread of Christianity halfway through the Roman era strongly reduced the portrayal of nudes in the Western World.
The only nudes that were allowed were those of Adam and Eve.
Nude Fine Arts from the 13th Century Onwards
However, from the late 13th Century when classical nudity was rediscovered in Italian city-states such as Venice, the portrayal of nudity once again became a trending theme in fine arts. Italian painters such as Nicola Pisano, Giotto, and Leonardo made nudity great again.
In the 16th century, Italian artist Tiziano Vercelli (better known as Titian) ushered the second Golden age of the theme of nudity in fine arts.
His paintings such as Diana and Callisto became really popular among European aristocrats. In the 17th century, Rococo art movement painters and sculptors such as Boucher made nude paintings and sculptures even more popular.
The 18th century saw royal academies and art galleries starting to accept paintings and sculptures of nude women and men. The 19th century saw many British artists taking up the nude theme in their artworks.
The invention of the camera in the 19th century saw a shift from the portrayal of nudity on canvas and figurines to the portrayal of real women in nakedness on photographic images.
Although the camera was invented in 1816, the earliest publicly available nude photographs were taken in the 1850s. For example, Antoine Moulin’s female nude picture was taken in 1856 and is now on display at the Getty Museum.
Although some of the first nude photos portrayed men in the nude during fitness competitions or out in the wild, as time went by female fine art nude photos slowly became prevalent and are to this date the mainstay of the nude theme in fine arts.
One of the latest most iconic of such photos is the Kim Kardashian nude photo for the Paper magazine that was called Break the Internet.