Nudity in Gilded Age Art


Kara McEntire

In the art in the gilded age, after seeing Titanic's "Drawing Scene", was nude pictures/paintings/sculptures popular? I know that most people were "covered up" all of the time (except for working out, swimming, etc.) but in art would they differ?

Kara McEntire
May 12, 2005

The nude has always been a part of art, no matter which era. Picasso, though he was not yet hugely famous, was doing his abstract or Cubist nudes at the turn of the last century, most notably his 1908 series.

In 1912 Paul Chabas created a sensation with his gorgeous and sweetly erotic "September Morn." Here it is:


And here is a link to the story of the painting and its popularity:

Kris Muhvic

Sep 26, 2008
Yes- I do think nudes never really went out of style; as long as they were in the "classical" mode. It strikes one as odd, given that the Victorians liked to shroud table legs (so provacative!), yet thought nothing of placing a marble or bronze repro Greek youth/nymph on top!

Of course, one has to account for individual's taste- some would never have a nude, no matter how splendid; while others appreciated the human form in art.

I think of the popularity of Art Nouveau nude stylings and motifs on everything from cuff-links to dresser/toilet sets. I guess if it wasn't the "real thing", and in modest...h-m-m...proportions, nudes were considered charming.

Well-now I'm blushing!


Daniel Odysseus

In the movie, Rose leaves a note and gives the painting to Cal. But in the real gilded age would it be proper for someone to have a nude drawing of their loved ones hanging somewhere in the house? Until then I thought that mainly models would be used...
May 12, 2005
I think people have a mistaken impression that all was right and "proper" during Victorian and Edwardian days. Far from it. One was careful to keep up a good, honorable "front" but all the passions and unconventional behavior and "improprieties" one can imagine were indulged in then with the same regularity as today.

The opening years of the 20th century were especially amoral, after the lead of Edward VII and the Marlborough House Set whose "nocturnal perambulations" were legion.

To quote Mrs. Patrick Campbell, the Victorian stage star: "Do whatever you like, so long as it doesn't frighten the horses."

And this bourgeois hang-up with nudity is almost entirely an American phenomenon.

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