The artistic depiction of nude people is a popular form of art now, but it has been a favorite theme for thousands of years. It could arguably be the one topic of artistic efforts that hasn’t faded since, well, the very beginning of art. Sure, it changed over time, but only in form and not in the intensity of the interest for the topic itself. The human body is a fascinating subject, and we don’t get to see it in its naked version as often as not. Therefore, its specific beauty is not only perceived as mysterious and fantasized about, but it is also the inspiration and main focus of many classical art pieces. Today we will be presenting you our favorite classic nudes of a timeless elegance and beauty.
Messalina, sculpture by Eugene Cyrille Brunet (1884)
This beautiful piece depicts the rumored-to-be ruthless seductress in a love bed, seemingly in rapture or attempting to entice someone into joining her. The majestic beauty of that pure white body arched in erotic tension is disarmingly captivating. Most classic nudes aren’t by far as sexually charged as this one; the vast majority just depict naked people or naked beautiful people but without this show of emotion. Messalina manages to send off a really moving vibe of eroticism, and while her skin seems so perfectly white and smooth, the overall look of her body doesn’t look artificial at all. Kudos to the artist for a really wonderful and mesmerizing piece.
Venus of Milo
Another sculpture is the famous Venus of Milo, found in Melos in 1820, but created around 130-100 BC. That means the beauty of this woman managed to somehow survive for over two thousand years and make it to this day to continue stirring the hearts of people who look upon it. All this admiration, furthermore, comes in spite of its regrettable but unavoidable damage. It’s particularly interesting (and a bit moving, also) to notice how little the beauty ideals and standards have changed. Seeing what ancient Greeks considered breath-taking somehow just closes the gap between “us” and “them”.
Maja Desnuda, painting by Goya (1795-1800)
The famous Spanish painter usually was drawn to ugliness and the grotesque (at least as much as the times and the current trends allowed him), but it surely wasn’t the case here. A collection of classic nudes wouldn’t be complete without the beautiful Maja Desnuda (Naked Maja). The painting has a counterpart usually hung next to it in whatever museum they’re taken to, called Maja Vestida (Clothed Maya), for which Goya painted a portrait of the same model, but with clothes on. Her body seems to display perfect proportions, while her face is refreshingly lively and a bit cheeky, just the right amount.
The Kiss, sculpture by Auguste Rodin (1889)
A wonderfully natural and also nicely intimate pose of a couple kissing. The faces of the people portrayed don’t even matter in this setting, precisely because the sculpture in trying to convey some sort of anonymity and greater intimacy of the depicted couple. The idea the viewer gets after admiring this is, furthermore, that in the face of love, we become closer to archetypes perhaps, as in the idea of a man and the idea of a woman, but not in a creepy and de-personalizing way. This is one of the most beautiful sculpted classic nudes ever made, probably because it’s not a single nude meaning to entice, but a double nude that only expresses tenderness and intimacy.
The Birth of Venus, painting by Sandro Botticelli (1486)
This is just as well-known in the mainstream media as the other Venus depiction presented above, but it was worth mentioning nonetheless for more than one reason. First of all, the painting’s quality is really impressive considering that it’s about 300 years older than most of the other pieces of art featured here. Second of all, that all-encompassing tender and contemplative gaze of the main character, while her beautiful fiery hair gently floats around here in a truly miraculous grace, well, that kind of self-abandon is simply contagious. No list of the world’s most moving classic nudes should close without her.