Throughout history, artists have created nude paintings (i.e. depictions of the nude human form) for purely aesthetic purposes as portraits, as well as to explore a variety of cultural, psychological, and social themes. Interestingly, these themes have included both celebrating and challenging culturally-specific ideals of male and female beauty. If you appreciate such works, we encourage you to explore Saatchi Art’s international selection of nude paintings for sale created by some of the world’s top emerging artists.
The nude has prevailed in art history for centuries. Famous Renaissance and Baroque works, which took a more realistic and classical approach to the genre, include Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” (1484-1486), Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” (1538), and Peter Paul Rubens’ “The Three Graces” (1639), which showcases the artist’s iconic fleshy figures. Artists including Gustave Courbet, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Lucien Freud, Willem de Kooning, and Henri Matisse are well-known for their female nude paintings. Other famous nude paintings include Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907), Edouard Manet’s “Olympia” (1863), Paul Cezanne’s “The Large Bathers” (1898-1905), and Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” (1490).
The nude has been the focus of paintings since ancient times, when civilizations often celebrated the human form for its physical attributes. These figures were assigned religious and allegorical significance. Hindu civilizations, for example, revered the body’s fertility, while the Greeks are known for emphasizing athleticism and physical strength. The practice of depicting idealized nude bodies carried on into the Renaissance, when artists revived the ancient tradition. In later movements, like modernism, artists began to stray from this idealization. These artists took more abstract formal approaches to depicting the body and stripped the nude figure of its allegorical significance, replacing goddesses with ordinary subjects. Today, artists continue to create nude paintings, whether it is to celebrate or dismantle the classic tradition.
Artists have taken diverse stylistic approaches to depicting the nude human form. To create realistic works, artists often sketched from live nude models. This practice was a significant process of the genre until the 20th century, when artists began to take more abstract approaches. Modern artists explored the nude in alignment with different movements. Cubist nudes, for example, featured fragmented, geometric bodies, while Fauvist ones depicted the human form in vibrant colors and lively brushstrokes. Today, artists continue to depict the nude in a variety of styles. While some continue with a realistic approach, others employ more experimental techniques.