On the recto of this impressive red chalk drawing by Pontormo, two male nudes seated on a low wall peer out at some undisclosed object to the left of the viewer. The shallow foreground space is further inhabited by a third nude studio model, seen from the back standing with left arm akimbo and the raised right arm presumably supported by a pole. The heads of the figures are reduced to a simple oval or curve.
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More than 40 drawings of male nude figures will go on show at prestigious London museum, The Wallace Collection, next year. The drawings date from the 18th century and are the work of a raft of esteemed artists, including Rigaud, Boucher and Jean-Baptiste Isabey. The works show muscly male figures in a series of poses, including some double-portraits where the subjects are fighting - a far cry from the gently reclining voluptuous female figures portrayed by the likes of Francisco de Goya and Francoise Boucher.
The nude figure is a tradition in Western artand has been used to express ideals of male and female beauty and other human qualities. It was a central preoccupation of Ancient Greek artand after a semi-dormant period in the Middle Ages returned to a central position in Western art with the Renaissance. Athletes, dancers, and warriors are depicted to express human energy and life, and nudes in various poses may express basic or complex emotions such as pathos.