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Greek female nude models

The ancient Greeks were one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It thrived more than 4, years ago. The years between B. Greek culture, ideas, religion, and art were spreading all over the world day by day. Ancient Greek sculpture deserves attention because of its uniqueness and richness. Greeks had a wonderful opportunity to use different kinds of marble, bronze, stones, and wood. There were several periods in ancient Greek sculpture, and each of them had its own characteristics. The development of female figures in ancient Greek sculpture was noticeable during those times; each period added something new; the influence of other countries and their cultures was reflected in almost each piece of work, and female sculptures were one of the brightest examples. Ancient Greek sculpture was characterized by numerous works of nude women. However, it does not mean that Greek men had a kind of disrespect to their women.
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There are, of course, nude statues of Greek and Roman women, usually standing in a three point pose — a bent knee, a curved hip, a tilted shoulder to accentuate the form. One has a hand over a breast to communicate modesty; her hoohah is smooth. In fact, all the hoohahs are smooth: there are but modest dents around the pelvic bones of the statues, but no openings or slight separations of the pelvic mounds to be found anywhere. The forms are all Barbie-doll blank down there, like female bodies just sprung out the head of Zeus, fully formed, sometimes clothed and vulvaless. Meanwhile, the male statues rock out with their cocks out; dicks are everywhere. Penises of all sizes surround me: curled and flaccid, pert and alert, balls dropped and shrunken. I wandered around, looking closely at all of the female nude statues and fragments. There are no vulvas, no protruding labia, anywhere. I wondered for an instant, whether the plethora of penises was the work of male archaeologists so enamored that the male member was rendered in excruciating detail centuries before — so concerned at the thought of emasculating their forbearers — that their recovery efforts spared only the minutiae of marbled male bodies. How is it that marbled penises survived the sacking, that for nearly three millennia the penis survived in all its barely tumescent glory and nary a stray labia caught the attention of a curator?

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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Lydia Schriemer. Schriemer 1 Female nudity, in Greek sculpture between the beginning of the Archaic period and the middle of the first century BCE1, is conspicuous only in its absence. It did appear, but only rarely, and under very specific circumstances. Through the lens of the Archaic kouroi and korai it is possible to establish a basis against which to compare any later changes in female dress. These figures offer the unique opportunity to compare the concept of male and female nudity while taking into account the Greek idea of heroic nudity and the disconnect between Greek views on nudity and those of the rest of the Mediterranean world.

Towards the end of the Archaic period and into the Classical period, sculpted drapery gradually became more sheer and form revealing and this eventually leads to the what is believed to have been the first Greek nude female in sculpture on the Ludovisi Throne Reliefs, followed shortly thereafter by the first full-scale female nude: Aphrodite of Knidios, sculpted by Praxiteles.

While this particular sculpture was apparently thought to be scandalous by those who first saw it, it opened the door for nude female sculpture. Curiously enough, however, only goddesses were sculpted in the nude, never respectable women. By the time of Alexander the Great, nude goddesses were becoming increasingly accepted in art; however, a particularly puzzling group of figurines has been found from this time period: the Tanagra figurines. These small terracotta figurines beg the question that, if female nudity had become accepted, and certain scholars argue that it is 2, why is there such a plethora of heavily veiled figures of women.

It seems that these veiled statues are a result of the realism that crept into art in the Hellenistic period. Schriemer 2 about the antique way of life.

The rise of naked women in sculpture was not synonymous with a rise in female nudity in everyday life over the course of these few centuries. Thus, while the attitude towards female nudity in sculpture changed over the course of these few hundreds of years, this was not reflective of a change in the female role of chaste and modest wife and mother.

National Museum, Athens. The kouroi show the beginnings of Greek heroic nudity as something particularly masculine and as a way of differentiating themselves from the surrounding peoples. Viewed alone, the kouroi simply show a trend towards the candid portrayal of the human body; viewed alongside the slightly later appearing korai, their nudity is striking. It is generally accepted that Greek artists during the Archaic period borrowed heavily from the surrounding cultures, especially Egypt, while incorporating changes of their own.

To showcase how drastic the borrowing was, Guralnick performed an interesting series of proportion comparisons, comparing several korai to the standardized Egyptian male proportions. Nikandre fig. Presented to Homer A. Thompson : Pearson: Upper Saddle River, , Although the sculptors of the kouroi, also, drew on the Egyptians for practical inspiration, they made one very dramatic change.

While men, in Egypt, were generally sculpted with a loincloth, the kouroi are always naked. When male nudity does occur in Egypt, it is either in a symbolic setting or in the case of a low status man or a child; for the Etruscans, also, adult nudity was rare as they also preferred to wear a loin cloth similar to those of the Egyptians.

Nakedness in women during this period, however, prompted the basic reactions of shock and shame; in this way the Greeks set themselves apart as civilized in direct contrast to their women and their barbarian neighbours. Greek women, on the other hand, wore very modest clothing. Schriemer 4 majority of Greek women at this time hampered any sort of physical activity.

Sculptors of the korai took advantage of these many layers and originally focused, not on portraying the body, but on portraying a large volume of intricate drapery. In the earliest of the korai, the portrayal of the clothing was fairly basic and served to conceal the body underneath. Near the end of the sixth century, a small stylistic change signalled an increasing artistic comfort with the female form. In itself, this seems to be a rather inconspicuous achievement, but, taken in the Figure 2: Kore, No.

Acropolis Museum, Athens momentous development. To be sure, the korai were usually votive offerings to the more modest goddesses, Hera, Artemis, or Athena, so, regardless of any idealization of morals or body, clothing, however much it eventually came to reveal, was simply expected. It was her attitude towards sex as portrayed in the epics of Homer and Hesiod, however, which was anachronistic.

This desire for chastity even led Greek men to do the marketing, in an effort to shield their wives from the dangers of prying 11 The chiton was a rectangular piece of buttoned at the top to form sleeves; the peplos was a piece of cloth folded over at the neck and pinned at the shoulders. Both were belted at the waist. The Himation was a type of cloak worn about the shoulders. Schriemer 5 eyes and unsupervised conversations with the vendors. While Aphrodite of Knidios, the first Greek full-scale female nude, 20 at a cursory glance seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, upon closer examination, the development of the female body in sculpture had been on-going for quite some time.

The musician on the Ludovisi Throne Reliefs fig. The rise of transparent drapery and partial nudity in female statues had been on-going since the first kore pulled her skirt aside to reveal to the viewer the form of her limbs hidden beneath the skirt. As the sculptors became more comfortable with portraying the female form, they experimented with less covering. Breasts were shown uncovered as context required. Scenes of rape or violence such as the coupling of Leda and Zeus or the fight between the Lapiths and Centaurs,22 for example, often resulted in an abnormally large show of skin.

Partial nudity had, by this point gained a general acceptance in main land Greece. According to Pliny the Elder, when Praxiteles fashioned Aphrodite of Knidios he also sculpted a second, clothed, 18 Pomeroy, Lefkowitz and Maureen B. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, , It is thought to be the most reliable of the extant copies and is thus used here.

Schriemer 6 Aphrodite statue. Both statues were headed for a market outside of mainland Greece, and while Kos chose the proper statue, Knidos, in Asia Minor, was pleased with the nude, and later even refused to sell it for an astronomical sum. This would explain why, even after the creation of this Aphrodite, goddess nudes were not common until the end of the Hellenistic period and the beginning of the Roman times.

Figure 3: Muscician, Ludovisi Throne reliefs. The person of Aphrodite is commonly acknowledged to have felt an early Near Eastern influence and she is even said to have her origins in the Mesopotamian goddess, Astarte, but it seems that, up to this point, this influence did not extend to her appearance. Both Figure 4: Aphrodite of Knidos by Praxiteles. Roman copy of c.

Vatican Museums, Rome signified fertility and power in their particular cultural contexts. It has been suggested that Aphrodite came to the Greeks via trade with the Mesopotamians on Cyprus.

Schriemer 7 male nudes played a role in her creation. The placement of her hand covering her pubic region both draws attention to it and causes the statue to emit an aura of discomfort and shame.

This seems to be symptomatic of the Greek aversion to the female body, or anything that had to do with female fertility or sexuality. Bafflingly, the Knidian Aphrodite actually lacks genitalia. The fact that the goddess of sexuality is the first to be portrayed naked is significant and her pose certainly points to a sexual aspect.

However, the lack of genitalia on this Aphrodite, and the treatment of women as sexual beings in the literature point to the reality of a very patriarchal and controlled type of female sexuality. Lyons, London: Routledge, , Nevertheless, this suggestion only serves to illustrate how deeply foreign the idea of female nudity was to the Greeks, especially in the early centuries.

The idea of what was immodest or inappropriate for women differed across Magna Graecia and reflected the local tastes and customs. For example, art featuring breast feeding was popular across the Greek Mediterranean, but was a virtually unknown, even taboo, genre on the Greek mainland since Greek mothers often hired wet nurses to look after their children and were thus not sculpted nursing their children.

Earlier it was mentioned that Greek sculptors borrowed anatomical proportions for sculpture from the Egyptians. This use of ideal proportions was not lost over the centuries, and, in fact, Polykleitos wrote a book, the Kanon, on the ideal proportions of the standing male which he is said to have brought to life in his 32 Compare with Nike by Paionios, from Olympia. Olympia Museum. Winter, : 69; Bahrani, 5. There is some debate whether this Praxiteles is same man who sculpted the Aphrodite of Knidos or a later sculptor with the same name or if this extant statue is a later, perhaps Roman, copy.

Schriemer 9 statue, the Doryphoros. Figure 5: Hermes and Dionysos by To be sure, certain female statues with particularly sheer drapery Praxiteles.

Olympia Museum left little to the imagination, however such an anatomically correct and indeed feminine statue suggests a live model. The focus on realistic male genitals versus the non-existence of the female genitals suggested a societal emphasis on males as sexual beings whereas society attempted to hide, and thus restrain, female sexuality.

Regardless of the idea of restrained sexuality associated with Aphrodite of Knidos, she was a statue of a goddess, made to be looked at, mostly by men, and as thus would have been seen as a sexual being.

In the natural progression of art, as described earlier, the next seemingly logical step after nudity in divine females would be nudity in the sculptures portraying mortal females.

It comes as quite a surprise, then, to find a large body of Figure 6: Draped women from Tanagra, by various unknown. Louve, Paris sculpture so completely opposite to what might be expected. While goddess nudes were gaining popularity during the Hellenistic period, the Tanagra figurines offer quite a different perspective on acceptable and normal female attire. In fact, these sculptures may be one of the very few large sculptural groups to realistically portray women in the classical history of Greece.

They show women in various activities and costumes. The Tanagra figurines are made of fired terracotta and, because of where their remains 36 Pedley, Schriemer 10 have been found, are thought to have been valued possessions during life, while also playing a role in religious dedications and burials.

Despite changing styles and growing artistic abilities, both the korai and the Tanagra figurines seem to be supporting a modest and respectable type of Greek woman. The lack of solid sources on women from the Archaic period makes it difficult to compare the lives of the Archaic women to those of the Hellenistic women. It is relatively easy, however, to examine a number of Hellenistic sources to determine if there was anything being written at that time to support the idea that female nudity was becoming more acceptable in that period.

While written sources on women were especially scarce in the Archaic period, in the Hellenistic period there is an increase in the number of authors, especially philosophers, who were concerning themselves with the ideal woman. Therefore, anything written about the ideal morals of women is usually from a male perspective. Schriemer 11 in these quarters and she could only be visted there by males who were closely related.

She would not have been permitted to mingle with any guests unless they were close relatives.



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