Water and Moral Rectitude in XVIII Century Painting

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By mid 1700’s water is back with vengeance; and in the late XVIII century its use does not only concern itself with hygiene, but quickly gains the grounds in the social and political discourse: it is not just a bath we need, but moral toughness, and that cannot be accomplished without a degree of discomfort, hence a cold shower, or a swim in a forest creek are recommended. Such discourse is not without a consequence for the late XVIII century art. The choice of pastels, typical for a rococo nude, does not match the physiological reaction of the body exposed to the elements of nature, for the narrowing of blood vessels should give us something very different — a bluish, grayish flesh that we are more likely to find in a Classicist or a Neoclassical painting. So, François Boucher is wrong on two counts, he is both decadent and inaccurate in his observation; and if they could guillotine his paintings, they certainly would.

This entry was posted in French Revolution, Libertines, Louvre, XVIII Century Erotic Art. Bookmark the permalink.

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