Alexandre Cabanel
The Birth of Venus
Musée d'Orsay, France

16-44-Die Geburt der Venus Cabanel

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This painting of the academic painter Cabanel was a great success at the Paris Salon[1] of 1863, because it met the taste of those days and followed the tradition of salon painting. Usually allegorical myths were narrated. The figures show exagerated and dramatic gestures. In the center of the painting are presented the woman's private parts. The vulva is hidden by her legs, no pubic hair is depicted. Altogether the surface of the body seems smooth and sterile. Venus sensually stretches herself on the sea foam and seems to float. The art historian Mrs. Hammer-Tugendhat speaks about pin-up character[2] and states that in the late 18th century the man representing sexuality disappears from the content of paintings and "male sexuality is represented by the nude female body".[3]

Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandre_Cabanel

(Translation: K. Seifter)