Nude Study II by Guillaume Larrue
Nude Study II by Guillaume Larrue (1851–1935) depicts a muscular and moustached nude man standing in contrapposto. Meaning “opposite” or “counterpose” in Italian, contrapposto in the visual arts refers to a human figure standing with most of their weight placed on one leg, while the other leg’s knee is bent. Invented by the ancient Greeks and originally used in sculpture, contrapposto was an important development in the arts; it marked the first time in Western art that the body was represented in a more relaxed nature, giving the figure a more dynamic and life-like appearance. Notable Italian artists such as Donatello (c. 1386–1466), Andrea del Verrocchio (c. 1435–1488) and Michelangelo (1475–1564) revived the contrapposto formula in the Renaissance. Michelangelo’s David sculpture (Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence) is one of the most famous examples of this classical style. Larrue may have completed this drawing while studying with Alexandre Cabanel (1823–1889) – a respected artist in mid-19th-century France and also Napoleon III’s (r. 1852–1870) favoured painter. Art teachers often instructed pupils to focus on the act of looking, and Larrue would have had to study the model in great detail in order to replicate the flesh, muscles, and bodily proportions with accuracy and care. Larrue regularly exhibited artworks at the salon, receiving an honourable mention in 1889 and a bronze medallion in 1900. This sketch is one of three nudes available by the artist; take home this beautiful, eye-catching drawing on its own, or collect all three.
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.