The Male Nude: Eighteenth-century Drawings from the Paris Academy

Herford House, Manchester Square, London, W1U 3BN
Admission: Free 
THIS EXHIBITION IS NO LONGER OPEN - it ended on 19/01/2014
Free Entry
Wheelchair Access
Opening Times
Monday: 1000 - 1700
Tuesday: 1000 - 1700
Wednesday: 1000 - 1700
Thursday: 1000 - 1700
Friday: 1000 - 1700
Saturday: 1000 - 1700
Sunday: 1000 - 1700
Closed on 24 - 26 December.
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Get a closer look into the tradition of drawing, studies and training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the equivalent of the Royal Academy in France. Lent by the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris you'll discover no less than 37 drawings of nude figures nude figures from the late 17th and 18th century. The exhibition will let you capture the essence of what was one of the academic exercice for every artist from that time when art was centred on the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture which had been founded in 1648.

Before the French Revolution, the purpose of the Academy was to train the most important artists and to provide them with the raw materials for successful history painting, which was by far the most esteemed genre. Even the apprenticeship was done with a master, much of the training would take place at the Academy where the drawing of the male human figure was at the core of the curriculum. This exercice of drawing the nude figure in the life class would be possible only after they achieve mastering the copying of drawings and engravings, and then casting of antique sculptures. The drawings they produced were so associated with the Academy that they came to be known as académies.

The Academy’s training was learned and structured, and, although it was sometimes criticized for its rigour and insistence on discipline and uniformity, it produced superb draughtsmen. Many of the drawings displayed in this exhibition are by artists represented in the Wallace Collection, such as Rigaud, Boucher, Nattier, Pierre, Carle van Loo, Gros and Jean-Baptiste Isabey.

Through the 37 drawing displayed you'll see the variety and the beauty in style. The works show figures – sometimes single, sometimes two together - in an enormous variety of poses and in various degrees of light and shade. The study of physiognomic expression was also taught at the Academy, and the facial expressions of the figures always complement the poses they adopt.

© Emmanuelle Bluman / Wallace Collection.