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 in the studio. It is one of two académies in the National Gallery’s collection.
Such 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 nineteenth century. It is falsely signed: david 1805. Although not by David, it may be by a student in his studio, but it has not been possible to confirm this.
Models typically held ‘action’ poses, in part to display the musculature beneath the skin. A slightly raised foot was frequently a feature of these poses because, as here, it helped reveal the muscles of the lower leg. This model’s props – a shield, a spear and a helmet – are ones that were often used in these studies.
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 in the studio. It is one of two académies in the National Gallery’s collection (the other one is also a back view of a male nude).
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