Fine Art UK

In Celebration of The Female Form


History of the Nude Model

Pre Historic Wall Painting

From the very earliest days, humanity has looked to express itself via drawing and painting. The history of the subject is long and involved, read on for a SHORT synopsis - that will be expanded as the site progresses.

Cave paintings from 100,000 years ago showed animals, - the beasts that provided clothing and food mankind relied upon.

Once these basic necessities had been catered for - the artistic skills that had developed over the millennia to glorify the beasts that sustained and protected them slowly, were utilised to generate either items to glorify the Gods to whom they looked for protection - or simply to revel in the skills they had developed and produce "Art for Arts sake".

Art Deco Nude
Egyptian Tomb Painting

The complexity and content of the paintings varied enormously but one aspect of painting remained the same around the globe through most civilisations, peoples and cultures - the depiction of the female form.

Although painting, drawing and sculpting the female image has taken on many forms and varieties, artists have always striven to explore the basic form.

Initially this was probably a technical ploy to ensure that the image contained the correct musculature and anatomical detail - clothes being seen as a barrier to the actual basic form.

Greek Wall Mosaic

As time progressed, the female form in particular, was seen more and more in what was evolving over time as a basic artistic device.

Used as decoration on every day objects such as vases, bowls, mugs - or around the home adorning murals or floor mosaics in the grander houses - or as simple images - or pictures in less affluent homes.

Venus de Millo

The grander domiciles, civic and of course religious buildings, were increasingly adorned with elaborate paintings, murals and sculptures, - and by the time that the Venus de Milo was produced, a great many of these images were of the female form.

Without doubt however, artists & sculptors increasingly used live models to correctly depict the fine detail of musculature and bone structure that lay beneath the outer clothing - & ultimately, under the skin.

In the Civilisations of Greece and Rome, the Artist's Model was an accepted individual in society - and seen as an invaluable adjunct to the Artists basic skills. The images however - and hence by implication were seen as sensual and not sexual.


It was not to be until much later that such artistic expressions - and their source (the Model) were seen to be of a sexual nature. By the late 16th Century, artists such as Rubens returned to images from Classical mythology to produce images such as the one above (right).

The source of inspiration for this piece was the statue of the Resting Satyr by Praxiteles (Vatican, Rome) seen to the right.

The sensuous treatment of the naked bodies and the warm golden-brown colouring, all indicate the influence of the Italian Renaissance - greatly admired by Rubens and arguably the start of “The Nude” form being accepted into Polite Society - but only in this artificial scholarly environment.

In common with the remainder of the site - the history section will grow and expand - and be brought up to date. Please return to the site and this page if you are interested in this aspect of Figurative Art and how the Nude became involved in photography.

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Resting Satyr