Celebrating Manet’s Birthday with 25 Reclining Nudes [NSFW]


Today is Édouard Manet’s 180th birthday, so we’ve decided to pay homage to one of his most scandalous accomplishments — the presentation of Olympia at the 1865 Paris Salon. The controversy! The uproar! Oh, that “shocking,” “vulgar,” “immoral” reclining nude! It wasn’t as if society hadn’t seen a nude in art before; it was the way she was presented — not as some floaty goddess, but a real, confident, vampy naked gal, seemingly in the middle of a commanding crotch grab, perhaps even a high class prostitute. And so, let’s take a semi-random survey of the reclining nude in art history, from Manet’s Olympia inspirations — Titian’s 1538 Venus and Giorgione’s 1510 Sleeping Venus — to sleeping, lying, horizontally leaning nudes in contemporary visual culture. See all that flesh change along with aesthetic movements and trends and commercial motivations. Observe the body language. Naturally, we’ve left huge gaps, so feel free to fill in our jagged little timeline with your suggestions and favorites in the comment section.

Sleeping Venus, Giorgione and Titian, 1510. Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo, 1511. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Venus of Urbino, Titian, 1538. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Male Nude known as Hector, Jacques-Louis David, 1778. Courtesy of Wikimedia

The Naked (or Nude) Maja, Francisco de Goya, 1797–1800. Courtesy of Wikipedia

La Grande Odalisque, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1814. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Olympia, Édouard Manet, 1863. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Reclining Male Nude, Thomas Eakins, 1887. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Reclining Male Nude, Egon Schiele, 1911. Courtesy of Art.com

Reclining Nude, Amedeo Modigliani, 1917. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bather (Female Nude), Salvador Dalí, 1928. Courtesy of ArtNet

Nude Girl on a Fur, Otto Dix, 1932. Courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland

La Poupée, Hans Bellmer, 1933 – 1937. Courtesy of Art Tattler

Nude with Abstract Painting, Roy Lichtenstein, 1949. Courtesy of Sexuality in Art

Study for a Crouching Nude, Francis Bacon, 1961. Courtesy of Bloomberg.com

Bergstrom in Paris, Helmut Newton, 1970s. Courtesy of Art Knowledge News

Sanatorium, Joel Peter Witkin, 1987. Courtesy of Live Auctioneers

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, Lucian Freud, 1995. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Naomi Campbell – Fruit Passion, David LaChapelle, 1999. Courtesy of ArtNet

Eine Tanzerin, Jan Saudek, 2003. Courtesy of Saudek.com

Nude with Skeleton, Marina Abramović, 2002-2005-2010. Courtesy of the MoMA

Untitled (Kaori), Nobuyoshi Araki, 2004. Courtesy of ArtNet

Untitled (Bathtub), Ryan McGinley, 2005. (Image via)

Marc Jacobs ad by Juergen Teller, 2010

Still from Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, 2011