The Naked Child in Art

/Tag:The Naked Child in Art

The naked child as a subject is as old as art itself. This series catalogues the many examples and discusses the issues around the naked child.

Loys Joseph Prat

I'm usually reluctant to reproduce images defaced by proprietorial markings and only do so when I can find no alternative. These marking are most often put over images in online catalogues for artprints - as if the company owns the image itself, rather than have a licence to reproduce it. Sigh. In any case I claim fair usage solely for educational purposes. Loys Joseph Prat was a minor French artist (1879-1934). This is a painting simply called Naked Girl with a Goat. Why a goat? Who knows - just a typical rustic idyll typical of the period.  

Tyza Stewart – The Law Is An Ass

This is a clear example of where the moral panic over the sexualisation of children has gone several steps too far - thanks to clumsy laws written by politicians to appease the moral outrage of the ignorant. It seems that young Brisbane artist Tyza Stewart has had some of her art removed from the Sydney Contemporary art fair on advice from lawyers. Why? Because Tyza's work often transplants the head of a girl onto the adult bodies of men, thus allegedly sexualising a child. The only problem is that the head of the child is Tyza herself and she is [...]


I have already reproduced an example of Pascin's work but having done that I didn't really take a second look. I should have. Pascin's work is important to this topic in several ways. The first is that he did several child nudes as well as conventional child studies. The second would seem to be who these children may have been. Pascin is also noted for his studies of prostitutes and it may be reasonable to assume that some of his child models were somehow related to these prostitutes (it is even possible some might have been child prostitutes, although we [...]

Allan Douglas Davidson

Allan Douglas Davidson was a minor Edwardian figurative painter. This is called, appropriately, The Little Model.

Nikolai Astrup

Another artist not noted for their nude studies, but who nonetheless did at least one nude study of a child. Nikolai Astrup is a much respected Norwegian artist.

Francis Owen Salisbury

I thought this one was worth adding because Francis Owen Salisbury was a deeply religious and conservative portraitist. He painted many pictures of his twin daughters, including this nude study. But how is it that such a conservative, religious artist paints naked children? The simple answer is that our attitude to the naked child has changed. Salisbury would have intended that his painting be interpreted as an evocation of childhood innocence. The nudity represents a pre-Fall state of grace that all children were said to possess. So just as Adam and Eve wandered the Garden of Eden without shame, so [...]

Victor Gabriel-Gilbert

I literally came across this image by accident. As I said I'm writing a sci-fi novel and most of my internet searching is devoted to science. Anyway, I thought it was worth publishing because it fits one of the patterns I've been talking about: namely that a number of artists have done at least one or two child nudes. In this case Victor Gabriel-Gilbert is a Belle Epoque painter better known for his depictions of everyday life, including many of children. He is not known for having done many nudes, a few around the nude bathing theme and Jeune Fille [...]

Graham Ovenden (2): Persecuting The Models

Persecute: harass, hound, pursue, pester, badger, distress, victimize, bully. It's an odd thing how those who claim to be acting in the best interests of child models end up being the very people who cause the harm. In this blog I have detailed a number of examples. When Hetty Johnston pursued the photographer Bill Henson she paid no attention to the harm it would cause the model. When former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described a photo as disgusting, the young model Olympia Nelson came out to defend her image. Then there are the highly articulate thoughts of Jessie Mann, daughter [...]

Moral Panic And The Vilification Of Graham Ovenden

I hadn't planned to write about the recent court case involving Graham Ovenden but as more and more was revealed I realised that it was essential to much that I have written on this blog. First let me fully acknowledge that much of the information has been more than adequately covered at Artist on Trial and at Graham Ovenden: Fall from Grace? What I intend to do is place these events in the context of two of the themes of this blog; the childhood culture wars and the naked child in art. In particular I want to make reference to [...]

Woutherus Mol

I know I had said that this series was finished - although I did add that I might return to it at some point. I've taken a break from writing my SciFi novel (which is progressing well) and when flicking through my notebook, saw the odd name Woutherus Mol, a 19th Century painter from the Netherlands. This painting is called An Academic Study of a Man and a Woman, 1808, although it is clear it is not of a woman but a pre-pubescent girl. This is worth reproducing because it is, as the title says, a typical academic figure study [...]