|A Second Look|
|Aphrodite||Birth of Venus|
|Luncheon on the Grass (Dejuner sur l'herbe), Manet||The Tempest (La Tempesta), Giorgione|
By depicting the head of his own wife on a naked body Manet jeopardized the premise of the nude and scandalized the audience of 1863 Paris. This was intentional: épater la bourgeoisie was the idea. On close examination any claim of Manet "cribbing" the figure from The Tempest is found wanting. What Manet did copy was the Venetian tradition of placing the Natural Venus in a landscape with fully clothed male figures. Critics feared Manet had cheapened the figure of the classic nude; they actually feared too much truth in the portrayal of the nude. The protest surrounding the Monet nude reveals more about Victorian hypocrisy than about the quality of Monet's art. My concern is with the second figure bathing with her clothing on (?) and as the figure is not in perspective, she must be a giant. Is this a twist on the divine nude Venus rising from the sea?.
|Pastoral Symphony (Titian)|
|Judgement of Paris (Marcantonio). Raphael created the drawing for the sole purpose of having it engraved by Marcantonio.|
"....public and critics were screaming with horror at the nude in
Manet's Dejeuner sur l'herbe, unaware that her outlines were
taken directly from Raphael."
-Kenneth Clark (The Nude, p. 161)
Clark (The Nude, p. 122) traces the nude in the landscape back to the poetical Golden Age. In the visual arts the equivalent is Raphael's "Judgment of Paris", known through Marcantonio's engraving (above)..."which was to inspire a long line of academic compositions ending, most surprisingly, with Manet's "Dejeuner sur l'herbe." The figure we can identify with Manet's nude is the figure gazing back at the viewer in the center right of the engraving.
|George Bellow, Nude||Van Gogh, Sorrow|
As far as the Bellows nude is concerned, she seems more like Van Gogh's "Sorrow" than the self assured Madame Manet in "The Picnic".
After the Victorians rediscovered Botticelli's Venus she entered public consciousness and embody the values of post-classical secular civilization: an icon to be deconstructed in one tacky version after another for the next century. When the Bond Girl Ursula Andress rose from the sea in a white bikini in Dr No in 1962 she shows the goddess still has some magic, in spite of the likes of Andy Warhol.
The Russian artist Serge Marshennikov seems to have made the nude fresh again.