Musée No:792.027

Musée No:792.027

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Reclining Nude

Artist: Isidore Pils  
Date:1836

Isidore Pils (1815–1875) was a French academic painter of mainly religious and military subjects. In 1831 he became a student at the École des Beaux-Arts and studied under François-Édouard Picot   Pils then spent three years at the French Academy in Rome at the Villa Medici, and visited Naples, Venice, and Florence. Pils's earlier paintings have religious themes but after experiences travelling with French troops through the Crimea, his themes took on military and nationalistic subjects. Pils was appointed professor of painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1863 but left the same year for two years in Algeria. Amongst other work, he painted part of the ceiling of the grand staircase of the Palais Garnier, in four panels of The Gods. It was completed the year of his death.

The sensuous pose of this woman is strongly reminiscent of Ingres's popular paintings of female slaves and concubines in Turkish harems. Much of the canvas was left thinly painted or even blank, suggesting that it was a preparatory study rather than a finished work. At this period the French Academy saw the depiction of the nude as the ultimate measure of an artist's skill. Students had to work quickly and without embellishment because models changed poses frequently. In this painting Pils has finished only those areas needed to emphasize the contours of the model's body.

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