Naturism in Art

ANW would like to share a selection of amazing art that celebrates the naked human body and portrays nudity in ways sympathetic with naturism. Open, honest, healthy, universal, family-friendly, innocent, straight forward, matter of fact nudity capturing poses, activity and life. Revealing without being voyeuristic, proud without being exhibitionist and shameless without being sexual. Recording our humanity for further generations, recognising our natural beauty and realising that being naked in life and art makes perfect sense.

If the human body is a work of art then naturism turns the world into a living art gallery. 

There is an endless amount of naked bodies captured in art. We would like the collection to represent the best examples, those created by the most famous artists, those that have a special place in the history of art or really capture moments that present a idea of naturism even if they were created long before the word naturism was! A new piece of art will be added on a regular basis. If you have any suggestions for additions to this section please let us know in the comments below or via [email protected].  

Sophia: Anthology by Nelson Shanks – Oil on Canvas 1993.

Shanks was a realist. Capturing his subjects through observation and artistic and technical skill. "The Realistic painting must be nothing less than a meditation on the nature of existence and the individual. It must create likeness with the power to kindle the observer's imagination and awaken memories.... It must encompass all that the Realist painter sees before his eyes and therefore feels in his heart." He wanted to present a subject in a realistic but special way. "There can be good art that's not representational and very bad art that is. The worst portraits can have almost no artistic merit whatever-(John Singer) Sargent referred to them as `likemesses.' "


Shanks was born in Rochester, New York in 1937. He taught art in Memphis, Chicago and Pennsylvania. He kept a studio in Pennsylvania for 3 decades. He died of prostate cancer in Pennsylvania in 2015 aged 77. He is well known for his portraits of world leaders and European royalty. Notably Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Diana, Princess of Wales, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II.


"Sophia: Anthology" a life-size nude, took more than 1,200 man-hours to complete. "My log indicates that the model posed for over 600 hours," Shanks stated.

We always planned to create a Naturist Art Gallery on ANW and stumbling across this painting motivated us to launch the idea. At first glance it appears like a photograph, particularly the torso. Sophia just stands there naked no sign of concern, shame, embarrassment. She is beautiful and yet there is nothing sexual about the image at all. She confidently looks at the viewer not wanting approval or disapproval but more like a child who has not yet become self conscious. There is nothing provocative about her pose and in fact the stance suggests someone who isn't even conscious of her body or her nudity. She is not trying to impress or posing for effect. She would be very likely to stand this way in jeans and a t-shirt while waiting to be served in a supermarket queue, or on a naturist beach but not in a glamour magazine. She is simply naked and Shanks maybe captures her in a more perfect way than any photograph and yet in a more realistic way with oil and brush than a magazine using airbrushing and other photoshop techniques.

The Pioneer Plaques - Art work by Linda Salzman 1972 

This second work of art in the gallery, is not for hanging next to a Van Gogh or Rembrandt, but for viewing by alien life on two spacecraft sent to travel beyond our solar system. The illustration is engraved on plaques that are 9 by 6 inches in size and made of anodised gold aluminium. Carl Sagan who had lectured about communication with intelligent extra-terrestrials and American Astronomer Frank Drake designed the plaque with the artwork being completed by Sagan's wife, artist and writer, Linda Salzman. The plaques were attached to Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 that were launched in 1972 and 1973. The plaques contains clues to how to find us, information about Earth and by comparing humans to the satellite behind show an example of our average height. Linda chose to illustrate the man and woman naked, which seems a sensible choice, and allows for them to appear anatomically correct. How else could the human body be properly portrayed?

It is for that reason that we feel it is an important example of art to naturism. It is stating quite clearly that the simplest way to understand a human is to see them in their natural form. If any extra-terrestrial ever did see these plaques they would see us in a clearer light than most humans allow themselves to be seen. The suggestion is that we are not ashamed or concerned about our nudity, it is normal. The man waves, they stand naturally and let's face it if there is other life out there we may be the only intelligent life form that foolishly worries about being naked. Aliens may be rather confused should they visit earth and find us wrapped in a protective layer. 

This piece of art has become relevant to mankind. Reproduced, copied, mimicked, updated and amended with humour and anger. Rather shockingly it created a stir at the time. With some newspapers refusing to show it uncensored and some people considering the image to be obscene!  British TV children's programmes at the time didn't feel there was a problem and showed it without any concern that it would shock or horrify children. The image also created issues for not appearing to be politically correct. The man says hello while the woman stays silent. The figures are not pan-racial. There is even concern that the woman may appear to have blond hair as it is not coloured in. 

Does the world worries too much? Simple nudity of the standing human form in a photograph should not offend anyone. Offense from a line drawing is almost laughable if it was not so disturbing. Naturism has a long way to go in it's quest to find the human race more accepting of the innocence of their bodies. This image is both an example of how the human race does look and should look, and a reminder of how a portion of society are unnaturally and unhealthily able to accept that. 

Model Writing Postcards - Carl Larsson Watercolour 1906

Carl Larrson was a Swedish artist who lived from 1853 to 1919. Born in Stockholm he studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. His most important piece Midvinterblot is on display in the Swedish National Museum of Fine Arts.  

This beautiful natural image created immediately came to mind as a choice for this weeks piece of art. A lovely example of Art Nouveau.  The ANW community has been sharing Work Naked Day with various shots at computer desks around the world. It had us wondering how would we have done that 100 years ago. Would we have sat naked like this model sending letters to our friends, possibly describing the fresh warmth coming in through the window, and how nice it is to be able to enjoy being naked around the house again now winter has been replaced by spring. There is something rather unplanned about this painting, it is obviously the artists house, may be he is currently working on the piece to the left and the model is taking a break.  The painting in the painting Model on the Table was also completed in 1906. As Larrson regularly painting his own family the model is probably one of his daughters. The model is totally relaxed with her nudity, she just goes about her business, seemingly unaware of the artist or her lack of clothes. Very much in the way we consider naturism. Everyday life but without clothes. It is one of the most perfect examples of naturism in art in that the nudity and the action captured are totally unrelated. She isn't posing, sunbathing, swimming or surrounded by nature - she is completing an everyday task and happens to be naked. The image is more like a photo snapped in a brief moment of casual, naked life. Something that today may be shared on social media with the tag Normalising Nudity. 

The Kiss - Auguste Rodin Marble Sculpture 1882 - Property of Musee Rodin

As today is St Valentine's Day 2022 we thought it would be nice to share a romantic image. Possibly the most famous naked kiss in art. Originally created as part of his The Gates of Hell it took on a life of its own and became rightfully famous. Various official bronze and stone copies being commissioned. The sculpture is based on an Italian story about a married woman and her brother in law who had fallen in love and were caught and murdered before actually getting to kiss. Originally the sculpture was controversial. Naked people kissing. Auguste Rodin was a French sculptor who lived from 1840 to 1917. He modelled the human body with naturalism. His art celebrate individual character and physicality. 

When looking at this work as a naturist you cannot help to see that it is rather harmless. If you were to see two people sitting on a rock on a beach and connecting with this kiss you would not consider it shocking or inappropriate. It would not be shocking if they were dressed so why would it be if they were naked. In fact if you consider the story, the only real reason they are naked is because it makes for a more attractive piece of art. Rodin has captured what was to be the first kiss of a couple and recognised that the human body not only looks nicer while naked but also allows the sculpture itself to never date. This could have been set in 1982 or 1682. That is part of the beauty of naked art. If you are looking at it with non-naturist eyes, and consider that nudity equals sex. Then maybe you may see more to it than what it really is. But if you see a woman with her arms around a man's neck and he with his hands on her hip and behind her back, about to kiss, then what is really shocking? The nudity! As naturists we understand that nudity in itself isn't shocking or concerning, it is the attitude and behaviour of the people when dressed or naked that can shock or disturb. This piece reminds us that it isn't nudity but our preconceptions of nudity that really counts. 

Vitruvian Man - Leonardo De Vinci 1490 Ink on Paper


It seems almost fitting that the man who created probably the most famous portrait in history, and the most famous religious painting in history also created what is possibly the most famous nude illustration in history. At around 25cm by 35cm "The proportions of the human body according to Vitruvius" is supposed to represent Leonardo's concept of the ideal human body proportions. A reference work such as we are building for naturist artists in Images for Art

Leonardo Da Vinci lived from 1452 to 1519. Born near Florence. he spent most of his life in Florence and Milan. He is described as an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance. He was a engineer, draftsman, scientist, theorist, sculptor, architect and most famously a painter. He studied and wrote on a wide variety of subjects. He died aged 67 in France, possibly of a stroke. It is commonly believed he was a vegetarian.

Vitruvian man shows Da Vinci's great awareness and skill of drawing human proportion. The figure of the man also shows 16 different poses.  Vitruvius was a Roman engineer and architect born around 80 BC and dying around 15 BC. The drawing is known worldwide and much copied and mimicked. Many of us in the UK grew up seeing it every week in the opening credits of World In Action that ran from 1963 to 1998. In terms of naturism its huge fame reminds us that to recognise humanity and understand our bodies we need to see it naked. No clothes, veils and random bits of floating gossamer fabric. Art and naturism shouldn't hide parts of our bodies behind bowls of fruit or other specially angled furniture, hands or signage. The drawing is a honest piece recognising the equality of the whole body. Naturism should be exactly the same, no positive or negative preferential treatment. Vitruvian Man is the piece of art that maybe most famously illustrates "man" and because it is nude it reminds humanity of its true natural state. 

Les Grandes Baigneuses (Bathers) - Paul Cezanne 1905/06 Oil on Canvas

Paul Cezanne created well over 100 painting of naked bathers during the latter part of his life.  The two illustrated here are the most famous. The one on the left is in The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the one on the right is in the National Gallery in London.

Cezanne was a French post-impressionist who loved from 1839 - 1906. So these painting were among his last works. He worked on each painting over 6 or 7 years and the Philadelphia not fully completed when he died. The name actual refers to the canvas rather than the bathers. The Philadelphia painting is 210 by 250 cm so these paintings along with another two (one in Chicago, the other Pennsylvania) are called The "Large" Bathers as opposed to the smaller bathing paintings. Cezanne helped paved the way from Impressionism to Cubism and other expressionist art. Matisse and Picasso considered him "the father of us all."  The images have triangular patterns to them. The women leaning in on either side towards the middle and top, as if the base part of a mountain. Naked humans are united to the landscape, just as naturism is bonded to nature and the earth. 

The London painting was used by Not Only But Also...Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in a fantastic sketch in the mid 1960's. If you have seen the sketch in can be hard to not smile on seeing this painting and think about bottoms following you around the room.

Cezanne chose his look for the paintings to give them a timeless quality avoiding fashions in art. The choice of nudity also places them out of time. If you compare them to Seurat's Bathers at Asnieres, for example, the bathers clothes and hats place them into a certain time. Naturism like "The Large Bathers" show humans without fashion. These bathers could be from any era, and could easily recall goddesses or nymphs  of mythology. The scenes can be seen as lovely examples of naturism. Any visit to a naturist beach or other location on a busy summers day could look like this. Natural relaxed people enjoying the sun and water sensibly and comfortably naked.  This is naturism caught on canvas around the same time that the need to create a name, philosophy and club culture for social nudity was starting to develop.    

Self Sacrifice - Sir William Reid Dick 1949 Bronze Statue

We thought art based on Lady Godiva was an apt choice considering Women's Day this week. 
Sir William Reid Dick (1878 - 1961) was a Scottish sculptor known for his innovative stylisation in monument sculptures. He became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1921. He was president of the Royal Society of British Sculptors  from 1933 to 1938. He was knighted by George V in 1935 and was Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland  to George VI from 1938 to 1952 and Queen Elizabeth until his death in 1961. Among his more famous sculptures are the RAF war memorial Eagle and the statue of George V in Old Palace yard, London. From Godiva's face right down to the horses hooves this is a beautiful statue, one that demands attention and suggests to all that pass that their is something rather romantic about riding a horse naked through a town. 

The statue of Lady Godiva located in Broadgate, Coventry was commissioned in 1936, completed in 1948 and unveiled the following year by the wife of American Ambassador Lewis Williams Douglas. The statue was draped with British and US flags. The life size statue cost £20 000 and was commissioned by William Bassett-Green who dedicated it to Lady Godiva and the people of Coventry. It stands on a Portland stone plinth with quotes from Tennyson's Coventry Godiva poem on either side. 

The Godiva legend is famous worldwide and is a wonderful example of the recognition that nudity is much more than just about the bedroom. Godiva's naturist journey is considered honourable and worthy, nudity used to bring our attention to respect and fairness for ourselves and humanity and the world. Equality through nudity. There is a confident beauty about this Godiva. She is not ashamed or embarrassed, she is simply riding as she would normally ride but happens to be naked. Naturism is often described as taking part in life as you normally would but doing it with out clothes. This is definitely a a naturist horse ride, taken with power, pride and confidence.

The fact that this statue of a naked woman is not just proudly displayed in the centre of a large city but also has become an emblem of that city offers a hope to us all that honest nudity can be found as non-shocking and suitable for all.  

Lady Godiva's Prayer - Edwin Henry Landseer 1865 Oil on Canvas

Continuing our look at important art featuring Lady Godiva we head to the mid 1800's with a piece by English artist, Landseer. He was one of Queen Victoria's favourite artists and one of the most successful of the Victorian era. Landseer was also a sculptor and lived from 1802 to 1873. He is probably most famous for creating the lions in Trafalgar Square. He studied at the Royal Academy in London and was knighted in 1850. He is well known for his painting of animals, notably Monarch of the Glen (1851). He suffered from depression and alcohol abuse and towards the end of his life certified insane. Nevertheless, he was hugely popular, when he died in 1873, and was buried at St Pauls, wreaths were hung on the Trafalgar lions flags lowered to half mast and shops and houses lowered their blinds. 

The Godiva painting is 143 by 112 cm. You can plainly see his love of animal painting in the image, but the face of the maid shows he was also skilled at painting people. Incidentally the maids eye are tight shut, offering Godiva privacy in her nudity and for her prayer. He actually started the painting in the 1840's and the model was Eliza Crowe who (under the stage name of Madame Wharton) actually took part of Lady Godiva in the 1848 Coventry Procession. Queen Victoria saw the painting at Landseer studio and it is now in the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry. One of Coventry's famous three spires is clearly presented in the painting.

In naturist terms it is interesting to consider that to ensure that the Godiva idea played safe for Victorian viewing, not only do only see Godiva from behind but it is clear that she is looking to God and asking for guidance and a safe passage. Her nudity is done in an act of goodness, and is forgivable. It is interesting though how heavy and cumbersome the maid's clothes look, and the large coat/shawl that Godiva has removed on mounting the horse also looks like it would be rather unpleasant. Godiva herself appear free and light. Landseer may not have meant this, but it is easy to imagine how pleasant and rewarding the ride would actually have been and how being naked outside appears a greater reward than the reduction of taxes.  Maybe she is actually giving thanks for the wonderful opportunity in front of her.

Lady Godiva - John Collier 1898 Oil on Canvas

Before we move on from Lady Godiva we thought we should share one last piece of art of the many paintings and sculptures available. Some other examples can be found in this article: Lady Godiva - Looking for Reality among Legends. The three we have shared here are the most celebrated, prominent and created by the most respected of the many artists who have had their imaginations captured by the Lady Godiva legend. 

John Collier OBE (1850 - 1934) was an English painter and writer who worked in the Pre-Raphaelite style. He was one of the most prominent portrait painters of his generation and a member of the Royal Society of British Artists. He was president of the Royal Society from 1883-1885. Not a religious man Collier married two of Thomas Huxley's daughters. Thomas Huxley was a keen supporter of Charles Darwin. After his first wife died Collier married her sister. At the time 1889 it was illegal in Britain to marry a sister of your dead wife, so the marriage took place in Norway. This law was changed in 1907. Collier painted some other rather stunning nudes often in natural settings with animals that we are sure to feature here in later weeks. 

This paint measuring 142cm x 183cm is pride of place in the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry. The horse and rider when you actually stand in front of the painting seem to stand proud of the canvas, like 3D, away from the medieval buildings in the background. It bring you emotionally closer to Lady Godiva.  There is a certain irony, when we consider modern concerns about age, that the model (the actress Mab Paul) would have been around 16 when she posed for this painting.  We can only hope that 21st century paranoia doesn't force this painting into storage and away from public eye. By all accounts Lady Godiva would have been in her thirties or forties if she ever did make this famous ride, but in comparison to the strong woman of the Reid Dick statue or the woman saved by virtue of the Landseer painting, Collier's Godiva is delicate and vulnerable. She seems to bow her head in shy timidity rather than shame. You get the feeling that the nudity isn't so much the problem, but just being noticed in general. Collier's Godiva is simply a quiet young woman. Compare this to the confident straight back stance of the statue. It is interesting that Collier shows no parts of Mab's Godiva that are considered by non-naturists to be rude. Unlike his other nudes there are no buttocks or breasts. She is naked but she is not on exhibition. It is almost like Collier's doesn't wish to titillate us with this woman's story. 

Many naturists feel the same today. We are happy to be naked and happy to show we are naked, but we don't want to titillate. We aren't interested in exhibitionism or voyeurism. We shouldn't hide our breasts, buttocks or genitals as that isn't naturism but at the same time we have no great urge to emphasise their exposure, being naked is enough what is seen as a result of that nudity is rather immaterial.  The Lady Godiva legend through stories and art will hopefully inspire society and make it consider nudity away from the sexual and the bedroom for many centuries to come. Maybe that is why this Godiva is childlike and innocent. You want to protect her. There is no hint of the saucy or enticing about this painting. The nudity has no hidden motives. Like naturism itself there is absolutely nothing sexual about Collier's Godiva and her naked ride.  

En Premiar - The First Time - Anders Zorn - 1888 Various Medium

To celebrate Mothering Sunday this year we have chosen this special moment showing love and care of a mother for her child. 

Anders Zorn (1860 - 1920) was a Swedish artist who painted portraits of King Oscar II of Sweden and Presidents Taft, Cleveland and Roosevelt. He established the Sweden literary Bellman Prize in 1920 and was made a Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur at the Exposition Universelle 1889 Paris World Fair. From 1875 to 1880 Zorn studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm. He became very wealthy and worked with watercolours and oils and also created etches. Some of his nudes are beautifully examples of natural nudity captured by lakes and around the home. We will revisit this artist at later dates. 

  Zorn spent some time in 1887 and 1888 painting watercolours of naked people enjoying the water at the seaside resort of Dalaro. He made five versions of The First Time starting in 1888 The version shown here are a large oil on canvas (91 x 54.5 cm) from 1888 and an etching (23x15cm) from 1890. He also created a two watercolours/gouache on paper in 1888 and a second oil painting in 1895. Sadly Zorn ripped up the first version, and although it was salvaged and pieced together the tears remain visible. The painting depicts a summer bathing scene. A mother with an infant boy. The mother is holding the arms of the child as they enter the water to bathe or swim as the child embarks on his first swimming lesson. At the time, paintings of naked women were controversial outside of mythological settings. Bathing in the sea was banned in the Swedish archipelago so this also added controversy.

What is lovely about this image is that the nudity is second nature and feels completely unforced. Zorn has captured an instinctive and basic moment of life and it just happens to be naked. The woman is simply encouraging her child to become used to and not fear water, it isn't that she has planned to be naked but that to do it any other way would feel unnatural and wouldn't have even crossed her mind. This is naturism. Being naked as a natural instinct and because it makes sense. There is beauty in the nudity, because there is beauty in the moment, because there is beauty in nature. We can see the boy is nervous but the mother's body language is calm and caring, her attention is on him alone. Just as naturism is not about voyeurism or exhibitionism the naked lady is unaware of her nudity, not self-conscious and purely involved in her task. We see naturist moments like this time and time again in real life, but seldom caught with such realistic feeling on canvas. 

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping - Lucian Freud 1995 Oil on Canvas
Painting © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images
Photograph © Bruce Bernard

As Anna has been spending the last couple of days naked in bed isolating with Covid-19 we thought it would be fitting for this weeks art to have a sleeping or bed theme. We came across this piece of art by Lucian Freud which was painted in 1995 and interestingly found a photograph taken by Bruce Bernard of the model Sue Tilley while she posed. 

Lucian Freud (1922-2011) was the grandson of Sigmund Freud (who was known to Anna's own great grandfather). Born in Berlin, the Freud family moved to England in 1933 to escape Nazi Germany. Lucian had a sixty year career in painting and although his early paintings are influenced by surrealism he moved towards realism from the 1950's onward. Freud worked from life studies and his models would have to pose for many hours.  From 1966 he painted many full length nudes. Freud is considered one of the foremost 20th-century English portraitists. He spent much of his life living in London and is buried in Highgate cemetery.

Sue Tilley (a Jobcentre supervisor in London) was about 127 kg when she posed for this large painting. She posed naked four times for Freud from 1994 -1996. This painting is the most famous, partly due to the fact that in 2008 it became the most expensive painting ever sold during a painters lifetime. $33.6 million. What is interesting when comparing the painting with the photograph of he posing is how much more interesting and rich and textured the painting appears and plays with reality. The painting shows her to be sleeping, but in reality she would not spend hours posing asleep and the photograph captures some of the boredom she must have felt. Painting like photograph convey a single moment, no matter how long the painting takes to be created.  Freud called her Big Sue and said of her body "It's flesh without muscle and it has developed a different kind of texture through bearing such a weight-bearing thing."  Despite the intimacy of the indoor setting and the nudity there is nothing sexual in this image. This is not at all because of the shape and size of the model but in the feeling, she is alone, fast asleep and almost suggestive of drooling. Her hand is on her right breast simply because that is where the position allows her to be most comfortable. As with naturism there is no attempt to worry about what is or isn't being seen. There is a glimpse of pubic hair and her right nipple is invisible due to the lie of her breast. The nudity allows the artist to play with skin tones and textures and to convey the natural beauty of the human body that would have been completely lost if this model had been dressed. It isn't meant to be but does serve as a wonderful reminder that naturism can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere. The painting makes no judgement and no attempt at idealization. This is a painting of a woman not self-conscious of her size or nudity, simply enjoying relaxing without clothes without concern or vanity. That is naturism at its best no matter where you are or who you are. 

Discobolus - Myron 460-450BC Bronze Statue


Myron was a Greek Sculptor from Eleutherae and working in Athens who lived in the 5th Century BC. He was taught by Ageladas of Argos, and is credited for taking his art to new levels of realism and quality; in pose, rhythm and the overall look of the pieces. He was particularly well known for his work capturing athletes and although none of his original works are now known to exist we have first century Roman copies and references to them in written works to allow us to see their quality and importance. 

Discobolus is one of his most famous. The piece captures a wonderful feeling of movement and realism. Various Roman copies have been found including the bronze version pictured here. In 1938 Hitler bought one of the Roman copies originally found in 1781, today it is in the National Museum in Rome. Another copy found in 1790 in Hadrian's villa in Tivoli had it's head reattached at the time facing down. This error has since been copied in some new  versions such as the one in the gardens of Harvard University. Despite ancient descriptions pointing out the head position " bent over into the throwing-position, with his head turned back to the hand that holds the discus, and the opposite knee slightly flexed." 

We choose this artwork this week to tie in with Steve's post Learning to Accept Yourself. In part of this post he writes about ancient art representing athletic men with smaller penises. Greeks looked for balance and perfection in these representations and looking at these sculptures, without our modern delusions and perceptions of size, the statues do look better in that respect. But maybe there is more to it than that. Did Greeks see the smaller penis as preferable simply because it was more normal? Did most ancient men, like other creatures, have penises that stayed tucked away for safety and ease of movement? Modern men's constant use of clothing and underwear removing the need for the physical shrinkage, that was so sensible for our ancestors. Basically, when nudity was common, it would have made sense to keep our penises small when not in use to allow for running without it being banged from one thigh to another or it being easily damaged in a fight. Today, tucked away in our warm underwear it needs take no such precaution. Were the grotesques and comic figures of Greece shown to have large penises because they were a rarity in those days, and showed a level of awkwardness associated with fools, just as clowns have big feet today. Looking at art through the ages it does seem that there is a lot of art that backs up this idea. Larger penises in art seems a more modern conception, maybe simply because it is a more modern reality. Today size simply doesn't matter, but in the more naked world of the past, growers not showers would seem the most sensible option. Why then is the shower seen as more presentable today. Well surely that is partly due to the mystery around the penis now. We simply don't see them, so the imagination runs wild, and those that are shown off away from naturist situations tend to be the larger specimens. Modern society thinks bigger is better. Bigger houses, bigger gardens, bigger cars, bigger breasts and bigger penises. 

Is Discobolus a wonderful example of naturism in art? Some will argue that Greek art is guilty of selling a unachievable image of the male body. But this is an athlete, most Olympian's today would look as good as this or better. There is nothing beyond reach shown here, our twelve year old, through regular swimming and healthy eating is very much a younger version of this statue. The Mediterranean way of life is still seen by many as the most healthy in the world. Remember it has only been in recent decades that the bigger is better idea has also spread to our dinner plates and waistlines. Ronaldo, Schwarzenegger, and a host of over buff action heroes show much less realism in their modern physiques. This statue also reminds us that not too long ago, in human terms, sports and other parts of life wear enjoyed naked, and our attitude towards nudity was totally different. The Greeks may have been relaxed about nudity but they were still civilised, cultured and had democracy. If they could function with nudity as part of their society then why shouldn't we?

The Sistine Chapel - Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni 1508-1512, 1534-1541

It seemed suitable to commemorate Easter Sunday 2022 with probably the most famous religious painting in the world that also has plenty of examples of non-sexualised nudity. Most notably the Creation of Adam 1512. Adam also featured in another famous image on the ceiling The Fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden 1509-10.

Michelangelo 1475-1564 was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance. He was a deeply religious man and known as Il Divino (the Divine One) and recognised for his ability to create a sense of awe with his work. Although he was the first western artist to have a biography written about him during his lifetime there is still much we do not know about him, most notably his relations with men and women. In thing we do know about Michelangelo is that he loved to portray people captured as a imitation of nature, nudity was a basic necessity. When the idea of covering up the nudity in his art was brought into question his approach was that evil was not found in imitating reality, but in men’s maliciousness. As naturists we understand this and fight this still today. Nudity is only shocking and upsetting if we link it to shocking and upsetting things, these remain shocking and upsetting with or without clothes.

Pope Julius II  commissioned the work on the chapel ceiling. 25 years later Pope Clement VII commissioned the The Last Judgement on the altar wall. 


Pope Paul III continued to back the project after the previous Pope's death but the was controversy. The fresco depicts the Second Coming of Christ and his Judgement of the souls. Michelangelo ignored the usual artistic conventions in portraying Jesus, showing him as a massive, muscular figure, youthful, beardless and naked. Once completed, the depiction of Christ and the Virgin Mary naked was considered sacrilegious and people campaigned against the work. Biagio de Cesena, the Papal Master of Ceremonies saw the nudity as outrageous "it was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully”. 

The controversy over nudity in the Sistine Chapel continued after Michelangelo’s death. The artist Daniele da Volterra was hired to cover up some of the genitals in The Last Judgement by adding fig leaves, branches and loincloths, which earned him the nickname “Il Braghettone” (“The breeches maker”). Some characters had clothing added others had their heads altered to ensure that they didn't appear to be interested in other naked figures. When the chapel underwent a controversial restoration in the 1980s, many expected Volterra’s “breeches” to be removed. Some additions by later artists were removed but the restorers decided that Volterra’s work had become an important part of the history of The Last Judgement. 

Michelangelo's work in the Sistine is not only a world famous example of how nudity is natural and should be part of our lives, but also a reminder of how that basic right continues to upset people for no good reason. The censorship of the Sistine chapel was wrong almost 500 years ago and remains wrong today. The censorship of the human body in it's basic, natural and instinctive form is caused by a ill-conceived prejudice. Censorship of this kind encourages the bad behaviour and unhealthy attitudes that those who fight for such censorship wish to avoid. 

David -  Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni 1501-1504 - Marble Statue

Before moving on from Michelangelo let's have a quick look at David.  This work was commissioned to Michelangelo by the workers of the Florence cathedral on 16 August 1501, and he was paid 400 ducats. In January 1504 a group composed of the prominent artists of the time (among others, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, the Perugino) decided that the sculpture should have to be placed at the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio, as a symbol of the strength and independence of the Florentines. On 8 September 1504, the statue was unveiled with great admiration to the people of the city. Originally some parts of the David were gilded: a garland on his head, the trunk behind the right leg and the sling. The sculpture, with its carved base, is 517 cm high and weighs 5560 kilos.  The statue was removed from it's original location in 1873 to protect it form damage and a copy now sits in it's place. The original is in The Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze / Gallery of the Academy of Florence.

The statue is a Renaissance interpretation of a common ancient Greek theme of the standing heroic male nude. The nudity reflects the story of David as he prepares to fight Goliath as described in the Bible. It could be argued that we are at our strongest, truest, bravest and most naturally capable when naked - as well as at our most instinctively attractive. Artist return over and over again to the non-sexual nude because it is the purest way they can capture our inner and outer beauty. Whether glamorised, stylised or capturing our honest imperfections the nude in art is the best choice. Just as naturism is the perfect choice as a way of living. 

The statue has not always had an easy life. Seen as a political statement by some in the early years it had the left arm broken into three parts in 1527, repairs are visible in the outdoor image above. In 1991 a man attacked the right foot with a hammer he had smuggled into the museum. The biggest issue David has faced though has been the problem of his nudity. A few years after the original unveiling David was given a garland to wear around his waist. This was later replaced by a fig leaf - as pictured above. The fig leaf addition often included the actual removal of the penis - thankfully David was saved from this unnecessary cosmetic surgery and can now be seen again as nature and Michelangelo intended. The Vatican in 2011 recognising the ongoing topic and troubled history of art censorship played an April Fool on the Italian people by making a statement that the fig leaf was going to be placed on David again claiming  “We must stop shielding ourselves behind a culture of art and forsaking religion.”

However, replicas of David around the world have also had censorship issues. The copy in The Victoria and Albert Museum in London wore a fig leaf for some years from 1857. Society still carries concerns today. Connecticut parents complained in 1999 that a copy could be seen by children on their way to school, Dubai showed a censored version in an exposition in 2020, and in 2013 a Japanese town called for a replica be fitted with underpants because it was apparently scaring children. It is a cheap ploy to use the protection of children as an excuse for censorship on this level. If any child really is frightened by a naked statue then the parents should wonder what they are doing wrong to have made their offspring so vulnerable. While such concerns continue to be common place in the world it is hard to imagine how naturism can ever expect to be understood and accepted. When the world can recognise the beauty of the nude in art without fear that it is obscene and emotionally damaging then maybe society will also be intelligent enough to see how equally wonderful and positive naturism can be. 

The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man -  Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder Oil on Panel - 1615

Sir Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640  was a Flemish artist and diplomat from the Brabant in the Southern Netherland (now Belgium)and is considered the most influential artist of the Flemish Baroque tradition. He was a recognised diplomat and was knighted by Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England. Rubens was one of the last major artists to paint on wooden panels as well as canvas. His choice of painting women with full-figures has given rise to the term like 'Rubensian' or 'Rubenesque' for women and paintings that exhibit similar body types. We will revisit this sometime in this project. 

Jan Brueghel the Elder 1568 - 1625 was a Flemish painter. Son of Pieter (the Elder), brother of Pieter (the younger) and father of Jan (the younger). He was well known for painting on fabrics, painting flowers and painting paradise gardens. He painted landscapes, animals, plants and fabrics with wonderful accuracy. His workshop in Antwerp allowed for a large production of quality art. Jan worked often with his close friend Rubens. Jan would often work on the commission of a joint venture and then paint the landscape and animals and leave a space for Rubens to add the human figures.

This was how the above (74cm x 115cm) painting was created. Although both were accomplished solo painters maybe they both saw that together their different styles created a more satisfying artwork. It is interesting when looking at their solo Adam and Eve paints to see that Rubens would concentrate on Adam and Eve and Brueghel would often have the humans lost in a landscape with animals to the foreground. As the two examples below show. 


We have chosen a Garden of Eden painting this week because this weekend saw the celebration of World Naked Gardening Day. It seemed fitting that while so many of us are looking to capture our own naked paradise in our own little spaces to ponder over how perfect the earth could be if he had always remained in our natural state. What is interesting when looking at the two landscapes is to consider the abundance of animals around Adam and Eve. How it does not appear odd that these animals should be without clothing. How could we picture them otherwise? Yet humans without clothing are considered naked, undressed or nude. The naked human is no more or less natural than the naked animal and as naturists we can appreciate that being without covering is the natural way to be. Why do naturists find themselves fighting for the idea of "normalising nudity" when being dressed is actual an abnormal state?  

The Birth Of Venus - Sondro Botticelli 1484-1486 Tempera on Canvas

As we are currently celebrating ANW's 2nd birthday we thought it would be interesting to find a naturist birthday represented in art. The most famous "birth day" in the art world seems to us that it may be The Birth of Venus. As represented by a fully grown woman rising from the sea naked. Can you think of a better way to spend your birthday than in your birthday suit around water? And because it is a birthday we have a whole bunch of naturist Venus art to be unwrapped.

Botticelli (1445 - 1510) is an early Italian renaissance painter. His two most famous paintings involved Venus. This one and the controversial "Primavera." He lived all his life in Florence. Though he did spend some time in Pisa and in Rome, when he completed work for the Sistine chapel. He made a considerable amount of money during his life but wasted it and died relatively non-wealthy. His work also went unappreciated for many years before being recognised again and sought after in museums and galleries. 

The Birth of Venus (172 x 278 cm) seems to be based on this ancient Greek poem:
Of august gold-wreathed and beautiful
Aphrodite I shall sing to whose domain
belong the battlements of all sea-loved
Cyprus where, blown by the moist breath
of Zephyros, she was carried over the
waves of the resounding sea on soft foam.
The gold-filleted Horae happily welcomed
her and clothed her with heavenly raiment.

Aphrodite is the Greek name for Venus. Having a large standing female nude as the central focus was unprecedented in post-classical Western painting, and this painting certainly drew on classical sculptures. Except for the head the  position Botticelli's Venus is very similar to Venus de' Medici a first century copy of a Greek original that Botticelli would probably have seen in Rome. However, this position of the hands in front of the breasts and genitals was not normally associated with Venus' birth in classical art. The scallop is associated with Venus as a symbol of fertility and a representation of the womb. Scallop shells are still linked to religion and pilgrimage today and regularly used for baptism. 

Botticelli copied the Venus de' Medici statue however in classical art, such as this 1st Century bronze statue and the wall painting found in Pompeii, Venus raising from the sea was usually shown dealing with her wet hair. Botticelli's Venus is literally having her hair "blow dried." 

Venus Anadyomene or Venus rising from the sea was a popular choice for art in the classical world. Apelles of Kos painted a now lost famous version in the 4th century BC. The trend was picked up again in the renaissance and continues to this day.  The story behind Apelles painting has a naturist background and so then it could be considered that all the other Venus art works since then being inspired by Apelles have also been inspired by this naturist moment.  The story goes that Apelles saw the famous Greek courtesan, Phyrne walk out of the sea naked after a swim and it was this sight that led him to paint Venus and ask Phyrne to model for the painting. 


The first image above is considered a copy of the Apelles Venus painting. Another reclining Venus with cherubs/putti blowing shells was painted by Alexandre Cabanel (a French artist 1823-1899) in 1863 -oil on canvas 150 x 250cm. A beautiful and at the time sensational image that is now in Musee d'Orsay in Paris. His curvaceous and alluring Venus with hand on forehead looks at the viewer as she awakens from her slumber. 


Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish painter 1577- 1640) created the design for this finished product by fellow Flemish painter Cornelius de Vos (1584 - 1651) one of many collaborations he made with Rubens. An oil on canvas 1636-1638 (187 x 208 cm). 

Italian painter Titian (1488/90 - 1576) in his oil on canvas (78 x 57 cm) created a more personal and intimate birth of Venus painting with the shell taking a more realistic proportion in 1520.  The French painter Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) went for block buster action in his birth of Venus oil on canvas (114 x 146 cm) in 1636. 

French painter Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 - 1904) created this 129 x 79 cm oil on canvas in 1890 with Venus surfing in on a wave followed by a cloud of putti.  American painter James McNeill Whistler (1834 - 1903) painter his Venus in a much more subdued fashion. This oil on canvas has a solitary Venus gently ambling from the water much more sensibly dressed than his famous "Mother". 

French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 - 1905) has Venus with a mythical ensemble in his 300 x 218 cm oil on canvas. His Venus take the classic s-curve contrapposto stance. Contrapposto describes a human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot, so that its shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs in the axial plane. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) used the same stance in his oil on canvas (164 x 82 cm) in 1848. 

As did French Romantic painter Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856) in his oil on canvas ( 65 x 55 cm) in 1838 and so did French painter Eugène Emmanuel Amaury Pineux Duval (1808-1885) in his 65 x 55cm oil on canvas painted in 1862.


French artist Gustave Moreau (1826-1888) was in fine symbolic mode when he painted his oil on panel (55 x 44 cm) in 1866 and has her welcomed by fisherman in his (21 x 26 cm) oil on panel work of the same year. 

British artist James Barry (1741 -1806) has cupid and a couple of doves trying to distract his Venus from her bad hair day in this oil on canvas (75 x 55 cm). Hungarian artist Johann Hofel (1786 - 1864) has his birthday girl stepping from the shell to the shore in his oil on panel (54 x 44 cm) painting in 1833. Venus' hair here seems less troublesome and helpfully protects the viewer from her groin area.


American sculptor William Wetmore Story (1819 – 1895) takes us back to classic Greek origins with his 1863 marble statue and fellow American Paul Manship (1885-1966) has his 1927 marble statue with Venus crouching to wring out her hair. A pose that we have seen many naturist women (and a few men) take when leaving the sea. 

Why have so many artists been inspired by Venus? Maybe for the same reason Apelles was inspired by the naked Phyrne leaving the sea naked, because the naked human body and water are meant to be together. Venus simply gives artists an excuse to capture that moment. Which is your favourite of the 22 works of Venus art shared here?

This year, if you can, try to spend your birthday in your birthday suit too, and hopefully enjoy a dip in the ocean too. 

Matinée de Septembre  - September Morn - Paul Chabas 1911 Oil on Canvas

To follow on from the mythical magic of Venus we come to a much more human example of naturism. This beautiful image was suggested by SamD50 - who writes "I've always appreciated the innocence and grace depicted in this 1911 painting." As innocent as this 163 x 216 cm painting may appear to the enlightened naturist it was a painting that carried with it a level of controversy and notoriety that is rather bewildering. 

Paul Emile Chabas (1869 – 1937) was a French painter from Nantes. He was a member of the Academie des Beaux Arts, he won the Prix National at the 1899 Paris Salon, a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 and in received the Médaille d’honneur in 1912.  From 1925 to 1935 he was president of the Societe des Artistes Francais. Chabas also worked illustrating some books. He often painted nude young woman in natural settings and was considered one of Europe's finest painters of nudes. His most famous work was September Morn describing the work as "all I know of painting", and accepting it as his masterpiece. Two other less famous examples of his nudes in nature can be seen below. 


Chabas said he did not wish to sell the painting, because it was his wife's favourite. So he entered the painting in the Paris Salon of 1912, with the price of $10,000. He believed no one would pay this, but when oil magnate son Leon Mantashev offered this price, and the painting was sold to him. For a while it went under the radar in Russia, reappearing in 1935 and eventually finding its way in 1957 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York - a donated work of art that has been in storage since 1971. Is it still too controversial to display or simply now too innocent to gain attention? 

From 1913 reproductions of the painting caused controversy in the United States. A Chicago based art dealer was charged with indecency for displaying it and one in New York was targeted by anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock. Comstock protested that the painting was immoral.  The notoriety led to the work was reproduced in a various forms, on pins and calendars, and its censorship was debated in newspapers. It inspired songs, post cards and humorous images, tattoos, live shows and even silent films. 7 million reproductions were sold, but Chabas commented that he didn't even receive as much as a box of cigars from those making money from copying his image. Twenty years on, shortly before his death in Paris, Chabas commented that he remained offended that his masterpiece was considered indecent by some in the US. Newspapers and magazines had been fined for reproducing this "shocking" image. Its fame continued long after Chabas's death. Tennessee Williams wrote about it in Orpheus Descending in 1957 and it is also the inspiration of a 1964 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. 

Life Magazine in 1937 claimed the painting was one of the most famous paintings in the world and Gerald Carson wrote in 1961 that the painting had caused the most heated controversy over nudity, art, and morals in the USA since the 1840's. 

Adding to the painting's fame Chabas never said who the model was and for decades various women made claims to being the muse in the painting, coming up with elaborate stories to back up their claim. 

What does all this mean in naturist terms? There has been discussion about the young woman's stance. Is she cold or protecting her modesty. As her breasts are clearly visible and if she is looking to someone the location of her arm and hand wouldn't have protected her groin then it seems that she is not attempting to cover herself from any on-looker. Simply giving her self a slight hug as she enters the water on a cool day. After all this is called September Morn and not August Afternoon. This is simply a lovely example of the innocent and harmless pleasure of being naked in nature. The suffragette Inez Milholland defended September Morn- as "exquisite and delicate, depicting perfect youth and innocence." She said it would be "funny, if it weren't so sad" that such a work would be censored while more titillating film posters were left untouched. Similar ironic comparison arguments are used against censorship in large social media today. S
ocial activist Rose Pastor Stokes claimed that this "glorious work of art" was a rare example of "the loveliest dream that nature ever made real—the human Body Beautiful" and went on to blame body shaming on a failing education system. The artist James Montgomery Flagg stated "only a diseased mind can find anything immoral in September Morn".

Wow - things really haven't changed that much have they? The defence of September Morn is the defence for naturism. Naturism offers the human race "innocence and grace" but society is too busy pretending to be shocked to open up their minds to this amazing life choice.  When is the human race going to grow up?

Gabrielle d'Estrées et une de ses soeurs - Gabrielle d'Estrées and one of her sisters  - Artist Unknown 1590's Oil on Wood 

We are in a slightly jovial mood this week. This 96 x125cm painting is from an unknown artist of the Second stage of the École de Fontainebleau period in France. Typical paintings of this period use elongated and undulating forms and crowded compositions.

Gabrielle was a mistress of King Henry IV of France. In this painting she is sharing a bath with her sister Julienne - Hypolite - Josephine, Duchess of Villars. Gabrielle pinches a ring between her fingers while her sister pinches one of her nipples. The Louvre's website writes: "The oddly affectionate way in which the sister is pinching Gabrielle d'Estrées' right breast has often been taken as symbolizing the latter's pregnancy with the illegitimate child of Henry IV. This interpretation would seem to be confirmed by the scene of the young woman sewing – perhaps preparing a layette for the coming child – in the background." The ring is thought to be Henry's coronation ring, which he is considered to have given her as a token of his love shortly.

Over the years this image has evoked debate about it's sexual nature. And in more recent years is seen as a representation of female homosexuality. Is the human race obsessed with distorting simple and harmless nudity into hiding much more than it actually portrays? Society seems almost desperate to find sexual innuendo in every aspect of nudity. This image may be a little humorous and it may even be a little cheeky, but what about it evokes desire? Why should it suggest that these sisters have sexual feelings towards each other. Society is too guilty at looking to remove the innocence from everything. The painting was even used in German in 2002 as a reference to support same sex marriage. 

Is society really so confused that a painting of two sisters sharing a bath together has to be distorted to be understood? Do you not have a long history of public spas and baths being used throughout Europe without clothing? How can naturism ever be fully appreciated and understood when nudity is forever being viewed with mistrust and given a sexual twist? 

As naturists we fully understand how innocent being naked is, and how two sisters can share a modern hot-tub without any confusion of their sexuality being placed on the situation. Would two sisters share an image like this on ANW? Well maybe they would decide not to, but not because there is any harm in it but because we have become so used to society jumping to sexualised innuendos that they may fear the image being seen as inappropriate. The pinching of a nipple should be seen as no different to the pinching of an arm - but we know society can't see that.  It really shouldn't be that way. We should be able to judge between what is innocent and what isn't, but this is a skill that society as a whole is losing. And it is the biggest hurdle naturism needs to face. 

Florinda - Franz Xaver Winterhalter - 1852 Oil on Canvas

Image courtesy of The Royal Collection Trust

To coincide with Queen Elizabeth II record breaking 70 years on the throne we thought we would take a look at her great- great- grandmother who was the previous longest reigning British monarch. Queen Victoria is often seen as some one who encouraged naked art to be covered up and was at the forefront of a fear of nudity in Victorian times that we are still finding our way out of today, but it seems that Victoria was not as likely to say "I am not amused" at nudity as we would believe. 

In 1952 Franz Winterhalter (1805 - 1873) painted Florinda. A 179 x 244 painting that is displayed in Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight. Winterhalter was a German painter and lithographer best known for portraits of upper-class society in various European countries during the mid 1800's. These included royal families of England, France, Spain, Russia, Portugal, Mexico, and Belgium. He was offered an incredible amount of commissions across Europe and relied on many assistants to keep up with the work load. He died in Frankfurt after contracting typhus. 

The Royal Collection Trust writes "In this scene Florinda (centre left) and her companions, all draped to varying degrees in luxurious Indian silks, prepare to bathe in the grounds of the castle near Toledo where she lives, unaware that they are being watched by King Rodrigo who hides in the bushes nearby" About the purchase they quote Victoria's diary: "The Queen purchased the painting for Prince Albert in April 1852, writing that she had seen, ‘a most beautiful picture by Winterhalter, his favourite work, which I have purchased for Albert’s birthday, but which can be no secret, as it has to go to the Exhibition. It is a most lovely picture containing a group of beautiful women, ½ life size’ "  She paid £1000 for the painting. 

The story behind this painting raises a big question. How does such a birthday present purchase fit in with the idea that Victoria was shocked at seeing nudes in art galleries and Victorian society were so fearful of nudity? This isn't the only example.  For Albert’s birthday in 1848, she bought him L'Allegro by William Edward Frost, which shows the semi naked topless daughters of Zeus, the Three Graces. On her birthday in May 1855, Victoria gave Albert a marble statue, The Bather by John Lawlor, a nude female figure sitting on a rock. In 1957 she bought Albert a photograph called "Two Ways of Life" by Swedish photographer Oscar Rejlander. It depicted the divergent paths of vice and virtue  and included partially covered female nudes. Prince Albert commissioned Emil Wolff to create a statue of himself as a handsome Greek warrior to give to Victoria. They considered the naked legs and bare feet to be too ****** for public view and they eventually hid it away upstairs and a second version was commissioned with sandals and a longer tunic. 

Victoria commissioned Winterhalter to paint over 100 paintings of herself, Albert and their family. Most for grand display but one was a secret birthday present for Albert. 

The Royal Collection Trust writes: Queen Victoria is seen in an intimate and alluring pose, leaning against a red cushion with her hair half unravelled from its fashionable knot. In her Journal (13 July 1843), the Queen recorded the progress of this, 'the secret picture' – prepared as a surprise for her husband's twenty-fourth birthday. The plot was successful, as the Queen wrote: 'he thought it so like, & so beautifully painted. I felt so happy & proud to have found something that gave him so much pleasure' (Journal, 26 August, 1843). The image was seen as too intimate for public viewing and remained private until 1977.  The RCT writes again "This intimate portrait of the Queen with her hair unravelled from its traditional knot was intended as a secret birthday present for her husband, and clearly intended only for his eyes. He immediately declared it his favourite portrait of her. The Queen is wearing a pendant containing a lock of the Prince’s hair." 

So how does this passion, intimacy and nudity fit with Victorian England? The society that demanded table legs to be covered, fig leaves on statues and women fainting at the unveiling of art that involved the naked body? Is it simply that there was double standards? The public behaviour was very prim and proper but privately people were very different. Did it become fashionable to pretend that the human body was a thing to fear, but in reality the interest was as strong as ever. Let's face it Victoria and Albert had nine children. She wrote passionately about him in her diaries and maybe the thing that left her least "amused" in life was his early death at just 42, leaving her to soldier on without the love of her life for 40 years. 

How did this behaviour in Victorian society effect our view of the human body? The idea that on the surface we should be against simple nudity but in secret still natural fascinated by it. It turned the human body into a shocking and taboo subject. It led to guilt about being interested in it and made people feel sinful if they had basic natural thoughts. Most people would have had to put on an act. Were the swooning and the shock merely fake reactions from a society that needed to prove that they were against nudity in any form. The introduction of swimming covered from head to toe being one very foolish result. And did this lead to an unhealthy under world of pornography and abuse and a section of society that hated anything they saw as a vice - including innocent nudity. Did the intense fear of the human body create a more damaged society. Were people like Jack the Ripper a consequence of such beliefs. Victorian society was a society of extremes. The gap between the good and the bad being something that had never been so obvious and we are still suffering from the repercussions.

Naturism needed to be invented to find a way to reclaim natural, innocent nudity. Each decade has found fashions encouraging more skin on display. But the gap of right and wrong, the secrecy, guilt and taboos have remained and become more common place. Naturism remains mistrusted because too many simply cannot imagine how nudity can be innocent. Pornography and abuse continued to grow and encourage such mistrust. The internet continues that confusion bringing the depraved behaviour of Victorian societies underworld direct into our living rooms - with nudity being further from innocence than it has been in the history of man. Somehow naturism and humanity needs to find a way out of this rut. Maybe this painting of Florinda and her maids can remind us that nudity can be beautiful, healthy, innocent and at the same time romantic and passionate. If Queen Victoria understood this then why shouldn't everyone?   

Christmas Delivery - Jose Frappa - 1890 Oil on Canvas


To tie in with the new WNBR area of ANW we have found a piece of naked cycling fun from 1890.

Jose Frappa (1854-1904) was a French painter and ceramist in This piece of art is interesting in naturist terms for more than just a link to WNBR as it also shows attitudes towards nudity and children in art in the late 1800's. It is hard to imagine that an artists would create such a seemingly harmless piece fantasy in the 2020's that involves a child like figure cycling naked through the sky. Our tastes may have changed but does this painting cause any harm or create any threat? 

Going back to nudity and bicycles it was with interest that we found many European cycle companies used the naked form cycling in their promotional advertising posters in the early 1900's. It seems cycling in the nude has always attracted attention. Images that could well be recycled to promote WNBRs today. 40+ years ago a resident of Anna's childhood village would regularly cycle naked and no one ever seemed to care. So why isn't it more popular?  WNBR has also had some wonderful pieces of art created for the rides over the past few years too. We think it would be interesting to collect some of these old bicycle adverts and modern WNBR adverts and display then in the WNBR section.  

Laocoon and His Sons - Gruppo del Laocoonte - Agesander, Polydorus, and Athenodorus Marble Statue 27BC - 68 AD.

To celebrate Father's Day 2022 we have this 208cm tall Greek statue of showing the Trojan priest Laocoon and his sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus being attacked by sea serpents. OK it isn't very cheery stuff but the family is naked. The tale was covered by Sophocles and later by Virgil in The Aeneid. In various stories Laocoon is punished by the god's for one betrayal or another. In some stories one brother escapes and there is a possibility of that here with the son on the father's right already poisoned, the father being bitten and the son on the father's left looking horrified but at the same attempting to break free. 

The statue was found in a farmers field in Rome in 1506 and is housed in the Vatican Museum. Michelangelo was present during the excavation. Lacoon's grimacing and anguish became widely known and Dicken's referred to it in A Christmas Carol - Ebenezer Scrooge "making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings" in his hurry to get dressed. I like to think that his pain is not just caused by the snake but from concern for his beloved sons.

The three artists involved in the statue were named by Pliny " Laocoön... in the palace of the Emperor Titus, a work that may be looked upon as preferable to any other production of the art of painting or of [bronze] statuary. It is sculptured from a single block, both the main figure as well as the children, and the serpents with their marvellous folds. This group was made in concert by three most eminent artists, Agesander, Polydorus, and Athenodorus, natives of Rhodes." Not much is known about the artists although they are considered to have worked together on another set of marble statues discovered in 1957 in the grounds of the former villa of the Emperor  Tiberius at Sperlongo (still housed in the area). Which include this marvellous re-enactment of the blinding of the cyclopes Polyphemus.

The Greeks were the first to see nakedness as, literally, a heroic state.

‘Greek nudity is a sign not of humiliation, but of moral virtue among the social elite of male citizens,’ says Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum. 

‘When a youth removes his clothes to compete in the ancient Olympic Games, he does not merely stand naked before his peers, rather he has put on the uniform of the righteousness.’

It is a wonderful concept isn't it? That when we are naked we are better, stronger and more moral people. I think most of us understand and appreciate that concept.  

Bain de Soleil sur la Dune - Sunbathing in the Dunes - Paul Gustav Fisher 1916 Oil on Canvas

To celebrate World Sand Dune Day - 25 June - this weeks art choice is one of the lovely naturist images painted by Paul Gustav Fisher (1860-1934). Hopefully his naked beach users were respectful of these important coastal environments.

Fisher was a Danish painter who was born in Copenhagen and studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Art there. Fischer was commissioned by the King of Norway to paint the event of Sweden transferring the sovereignty of Norway back to the Norwegians. His art sold well during his lifetime although he never received great critical acclaim. He was famous for his paintings of city life - and was dubbed "Copenhagen's painter" and he also painted city streets of Paris and around German, Italy and Scandinavia. His paintings as he matured became colourful, rich and bright - maybe that is one of the reasons he also enjoyed beach scenes.

During the early 1900's he painted many beach based images with naturist women relaxed and happy on beautiful beach settings. Many seem to be based at Hornbæk in Denmark. The highlighted images is a great example a 58 x 75 cm painting that really makes you want to step into the world of naturism. You can taste the fresh sea air and feel the sun on you skin and the is something peaceful and easy and healthy about the atmosphere. The ladies are casual and relaxed and it all seems so natural. This painting is a perfect advert for naturism. Inspiring stuff and Fisher obviously felt inspired as he painted many others as sample here. 



What is interesting is that his painting do not just show the casual happy relaxed attitude of beach naturism but also a lack of concern between the ladies on the beach about being mixed with dressed or costumed companions. Truly clothing optional. His painting were not just dune based and sensibly brought his naturists onto the beach and into the sea. 








 They are a wonderful and carefree collection of naturist images - our won criticism would be that they are only of women - it would have been nice to have seen some mixed bathing scenes captured with the same joyful and relaxed attitude. After all we love naturism to be as inclusive as possible. But 100 years on RnR have reminded us recently in their Member Blog Naturism: Is it as inclusive as we think it is? that naturism is still struggling with this.

Forty Two Kids - George Wesley Bellows 1907 Oil on Canvas

As this weekend is International Skinny Dip Day we thought we should celebrate it with a painting depicting naked swimming. This 106 x 153 cm painting located at New York's East river seems a perfect example. 

George Bellows (1882 – 1925) was an American realist painter born in Ohio, known for his bold depictions of urban life in New York City. The Columbus Museum of Art label him as "the most acclaimed American artist of his generation". He was part of the Ashcan School, an artistic movement in the United States during the early 20th century and is best known for works portraying scenes of daily life in New York, often in the city’s poorer neighbourhoods. His urban New York scenes depicted the living chaos and feeling claustrophobia of the working-class neighbourhoods. This painting is no exception. The painting's title reminds us of the earlier origins of a word now commonly used  for all children. The slang use of kid had been around since the late 1500 and was often used to describe thieves and street fighters. In turn-of-the-century slang, "kids" referred to young hooligans, often the offspring of working-class immigrants of the Lower East Side tenements. Chaplin's film "The Kid" was recognising this meaning. The idea of being "kidded" as in tricked or misused also has these connotations. 

Another riverside scene of Bellows is also worth investigating. 

Riverfront No1 is a 115 x 160 oil on canvas from 1915 that also shows bathing at the riverfront docks on a hot day. The dark blues of the river, sky and the lady's dress contrasting with the pale skins of the naked bodies.

A jury denied Forty Two Kids the prestigious Lippincott Prize at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts annual exhibition, fearful that the prize donor might be offended by the title and subject of the painting. When asked if this was the case, Bellows quipped somewhat opaquely: “No, it was the naked painting that they feared.” And this is one of the reasons these paintings are so fascinating.

Firstly they show that skinny dipping was simply a matter of fact occurrence.  These people didn't consider themselves as naturists and certainly weren't trying to celebrate any labelled day in the calendar. They wanted to swim and the most sensible way to go about it was to get naked. People witnessing it didn't care. It was considered odd or forced, it wasn't really considered at all. Similar less "squashed" scenes could be seen at beaches and rivers all over the world. Swimming naked was natural. Nudity was accepted. Clothing was optional. This was normal.

However, there was a fine line. Society knows it happens. Presidents like John Quincy Adams and literary celebrities like Mark Twain still demanded respect despite their regular skinny dipping. It was the idea of reminding us and celebrating it that caused the stir. As the 20th century matured Bellows' quote about the fear of nudity would become more and more relevant. As the decades progressed scenes of innocent skinning dipping would become rarer and rarer as society took that fear to heart and would start to demand that people cover up. Ironically this has not led to a more moral and innocent society. In fact the opposite could be argued. Several generations have grown since these paintings and each generation becomes a little more separated from the idea that nudity can be seen as natural, normal, healthy and harmless. Society could now be mistaken and think that images like Forty Two Kids is shocking, perverse and dangerous. That is a sad situation to find ourselves in. 

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