Art has been around for several thousand years. From the time the caveman first etched a figure on a wall through the ancient Egyptians, art and artists continued to develop. New materials became available and new techniques were put into practice. It is with little doubt that the most glorious time for art was in the period of the Old Masters.
While there is no definitive agreement on when the Old Masters period started or ended, a good estimate is that it encompassed more than 5 centuries, roughly beginning around 1300 and ending around 1830. That period of time covered a number of very famous art movements including the Early Renaissance, the High Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Dutch Realism, Rococo, Neoclassic and Romanticism.
One of the most popular subjects of the Old Masters was the human body. Some of the most famous oil paintings done by the Old Masters were nude oil paintings. Each painting was a thing of beauty but it also told a story. Among the many brilliant painters of the golden age of painting that created truly incredible nude oil paintings were Titian, Sandro Botticelli, Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt Van Rijn.
Titian (1487-1576) – Danae
A very risqué and erotic painting for the time, this painting shows a nude Danae reclining on her bed waiting anxiously for a shower of gold to be cast down upon her. To her side is an old lady that is attempting to catch as much of the gold in her apron as possible. The painting came at a time when Philip of Spain, a well-known admirer of erotic art had just ascended to the throne.
Botticelli (1445-1510) – The Birth of Venus
Perhaps the most famous of any of the great nude oil paintings, The Birth of Venus was the first of the non-religious nude works of art and one of a series of paintings Botticelli did with a mythological theme. During the Early Renaissance, the depiction of the nude female figure of the goddess Venus rising out of the sea was commissioned by the very prominent and powerful Medici family. The painting incorporates humanism to bring a more natural reality to the abstract world of mythology.
Rubens (1577-1640) – Venus Before the Mirror
This Old Master created some of the finest and most admired nude oil paintings the world has ever seen. His style was to paint woman with all their curves and to give them a fuller figure than they might actually have had. He portrayed women as voluptuous creatures and today such woman are often described as “Rubenesque.” Venus Before the Mirror shows an unclothed woman in a sitting position admiring herself in a mirror held by a smaller figure. With her golden hair dangling behind her, she seems to be in her own world, completely oblivious to those around her.
Rembrandt (1606-1669) – Bathsheba at Her Bath
This masterpiece is based on the story of David and Bathsheba. Rembrandt has carefully captured the pensive thoughtfulness of Bathsheba as she sits nude contemplating her fate in life. The composition brings the subject to the very forefront of the painting dramatically focusing the viewer’s eye on the innocent figure and the intriguing expression on her face.
Almost all of the famous oil paintings created by the Old Masters hang in the most famous museums in the world. These paintings are truly priceless treasures. Whether you are interested in some of the most famous nude oil paintings or some other subjects created by these rare geniuses, you should take the opportunity to see them in person if and when you get the chance.