Paintings of women are a huge source of material for the work of many artists in the past and they are a great source for mine as well. There are countless situations in which women can be put into paintings and is most likely the reason for their popularity as a theme.
Women can be put into the simple format of a study of a nude, they can be placed in an interior in various states of undress and performing a series of tasks relating to their dress and appearance.
Women in paintings have been depicted in a multitude of ways in the course of history. In past centuries paintings of women were used to interpret religious or mythical subjects and the artist could use these bases for the paintings of women in the nude. It is only when societies became more secular, the nude was accepted as a legitimate subject on its own.
Nude Paintings of Women
Pre- Renaissance and Renaissance painters used the nude for many religious stories from the bible and from Greek mythology. They were able to justify the painting of the nude by claiming depiction of mythological or religious sources. In this way they managed to sidestep criticism by certain members of society, that these nudes were subversive and erotic and thereby unacceptable.
Thus we have many paintings of nudes with themes such as Danae as painted by Rembrandt, brush and pen paintings by Parmegianino of the Bath of Diana and Cupid, many paintings of Adam and Eve nude, save for a fig leaf covering intimate parts and many, many others.
These themes are rarely used today in modern art, as the nude is now accepted as a subject on its own. Indeed the study of the nude is often considered essential as the basis of an artist’s knowledge and necessary for the paintings of women either in oil or watercolor.
In China and Japan paintings of women were mainly of women clothed. Indeed the paintings of women in garments fully covering the body are extrememly beautiful, as the long flowering gowns are made up of many different patterns.
The result is a very pleasing congregation of gowned women dressed in a multitude of patterns which are surprisingly harmonious in spite of opposing colors and designs in the patterns. These paintings are some of my personal favorites.
The painting of the nude or partially nude in Japan actually appears to be in erotic paintings of love making between men and women. I have never come across very many Japanese paintings of nude women.
I believe people always like a story, be it verbal or visual. I myself like to catch a fleeting moment in the daily routine of a woman.
An interesting example of a painter using his wife as a nude model is the case of Bonnard’s wife. She became more and more neruotic as she grew older and spent most of her time in the bath. Bonnard made several paintings of her in the bathtub and with his remarkable imagination, made the bathroom tiles (which were in reality white) a beautiful melody of colors surrounding his nude wife, lying in a covering of blue violet water. These paintings have become very beloved and are some of my personal favorites also.
Paintings of women have been a large source of expression for artists for centuries and will obviously continue to be so.