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French, An Académie

Key facts
Full title An Académie
Artist French
Date made probably 1800-50
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 67.5 × 37 cm
Acquisition credit Presented to the Tate Gallery by Wish of Sir Charles Holroyd, 1919; transferred, 1956
Inventory number NG3391
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
An Académie

This back view of a standing male nude is an académie, which is a study, usually a chalk drawing or an oil painting, made from a live male model. These life studies formed part of the classical training of (male) artists from the eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, particularly in France. This example is almost certainly French and probably dates from the early decades of the nineteenth century.

Models typically held ‘action’ poses, in part to display the musculature beneath the skin. In this study, particular attention has been given to the back and to the tautened left leg. This model also raises his left arm in a defensive gesture, as if carrying a shield or deflecting a blow.

This académie is particularly well painted and has previously been attributed to Géricault, although there is no evidence to support this. It has been cut a little along the top and bottom edges, and is also unfinished: the raised clenched fist is just an outline.

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