Nude Study III by Guillaume Larrue
This nude study by Guillaume Larrue (1851–1935) portrays a toned, nude man from behind. He is standing tall, his weight equally balanced on both feet, with his left hand at his side and his right hand reaching toward the sky. Larrue masterfully blends soft pencil marks to render realistic highlights and shadows falling across the model’s body, muscles, and skin. The artist’s skill is evident in the fact that this sketch – which is one of three available nudes by the artist – almost looks like a black and white photograph. Larrue may have created this drawing while studying with Alexandre Cabanel (1823–1889) – a reputable artist in mid-19th-century France and Napoleon III’s (r. 1852–1870) painter of choice. Nude sketches provide artists with the opportunity to study shadow, proportion, and texture, and were often done by students in artists’ studios. 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. This sketch comes with an ivory mat and a deep brown frame.
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.