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The Renaissance Nude undressed

Weekend-long art history course

Short course

  • 18 May 2019, 10am — 5pm
  • 19 May 2019, 10am — 5pm
This event has now ended

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Part of our

The Renaissance Nude

events programme
Go to exhibition page

Dosso Dossi, Allegory of Fortune (detail), 1530.

Oil on canvas. 179.1 x 217.2 cm. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

This art history and theory course considers the nude as a Renaissance subject in the 15th and 16th century art world, and examines some of the practicalities involved in its invention.

Led by art historian, Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe, this weekend course examines the problems and solutions involved in representing the nude in the Renaissance world. The naked human figure had been a frequent subject for artists of classical antiquity, but within early Christian culture it became tainted with sensuality and bodily indulgence. It retreated into the background of the artist’s repertoire, not to emerge until the new world of the Renaissance.

The RA’s wide-ranging exhibition The Renaissance Nude brings together a fascinating array of works that demonstrate the return of the nude in art. This phenomenon began in the early 15th century and continued to develop during the subsequent century. Artists across Europe may have returned to classical antiquity for some of their inspiration but they also invented a new visual language, moving between the different goals of idealisation and naturalistic observation.

This course considers the practicalities involved in making art in the Renaissance – a period which saw increasing anatomical understanding, moves towards drawing from life, and development of techniques in oil to suggest more convincingly and seductively the soft forms of warm human flesh.

The course explores the social and artistic context in which these works of art were produced – how did their audience respond to them? Who was their audience? What difficulties did artists, patrons and the wider viewing public face when confronted with this new subject? Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe examines some of the complexities for artists in approaching a semi-taboo subject. In a religious context, where the sacred is close to the profane, the naked figure required delicate navigation between sensuality and corporeality.

What of accessories? Are nude figures only ever those that are wholly naked, or should we also consider the lightly clad, the scantily clad or the improperly clad to be a cousin of the nude? How much clothing is enough to qualify for decency? Or can a semi-clothed figure be more emphatically nude and seductive?

Today, you are the audience. This course opens your eyes to a whole new way of seeing and understanding the historical nude.

The course includes a directed tour of The Renaissance Nude.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 18 May 2019, 10am — 5pm
  • 19 May 2019, 10am — 5pm

Wolfson British Academy Room, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£420. Includes all materials, light refreshments and a wine reception at the end of day one.