Nude Study I by Guillaume Larrue
This nude study by Guillaume Larrue (1851–1935) is one of three available nudes by the artist. The care with which Larrue rendered the model’s muscles, joints, and facial features suggests that he likely spent a fair amount of time working on this sketch. The shadows are particularly realistic, as evidenced by the shading on the model’s right calf and underneath his chin. The pencil marks are smooth, delicate, and dream-like – giving the impression that the model could walk right off the page. Nude sketches provide artists with the opportunity to study shadow, proportion, and texture, and were often done by students in artists' studios. Larrue may have completed this drawing as a pupil of Alexandre Cabanel (1823–1889) – a respected artist in mid-19th-century France and also Napoleon III’s (r. 1852–1870) favoured painter. Both Larrue and Cabanel’s names are written on the back of the sketch in the frame, which is made of a simple, yet bold dark wood. Larrue’s works have sold at auctions across the globe – including the esteemed Christie’s Auction House. He regularly exhibited artworks at the salon, receiving an honourable mention in 1889 and a bronze medallion in 1900. From 1901 to 1935, Larrue was associated with La Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, a society for French artists that hosted annual exhibitions.
At this time in France, the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919, at the end of World War I. Although fighting had already ceased, this treaty codified the peace terms between the victorious Allied countries and Germany. The Treaty held Germany responsible for starting the war, and imposed harsh penalties upon the country, including loss of territory, massive reparation payments, and demilitarisation. Resentment and economic distress brought on by the Treaty within Germany helped fuel the ultra-nationalist sentiments, which led to the rise of National Socialism under Adolf Hitler(1889–1945) two decades later.