The Nudity In Rafael’s Work



The picture below is the Rafael’s first use of nudity in his paintings. Some might even say that this was a crucial step in the process of him becoming a famous artist. 

Three Gracies

The nudity is catching the viewer’s attention. The use of nudity is provocative, being very innovative for that time. You may be interested to know that the picture above is not based on a real women, not even a single one. Rafael’s first picture of naked women was inspired by an ancient sculpture he found in the library. Bet you did not believe it is a painting of a sculpture 🙂

Before that time, artists had been able to undress Jesus only when crusaded, and that nudity increases the identification with Jesus’ suffering. It was easier to undress Jesus as a baby, because it was relatively less offensive. But in contrast to the convention, Rafael redesigned the form of nudity, painting the fabric around Jesus’ genitalia in a red-like color. Besides, the fabric itself formed a man’s genitalia like form.  As the time passed, Rafael replaced the cloth with fabric, covering only the upper body of the character.

In the pictures which followed, little Jesus is facing the public being naked, while exposing the proof of him being uncircumcised. In order to emphasize the suffering of Jesus, Rafael used the “contrapposto” technique ( ). It is no doubt that the variety of positions expressed the inner preferences of the artist.

In renaissance time, it was a causal incident to come by ducks and swans. Unlike the human anatomy, these birds’ sexual activity is circular[1], giving it the connotation of a very pleasurable act. When he was painting women, Rafael allowed himself to undress their cloth. In one of his paintings, he introduces a swan in the picture, cluing that he is her mate. By painting the swan’s genitalia, the renaissance aged viewer is immediately making the required linkage.

 Swan in the swamp

 [1] As a retired vet, Haim originally noticed the connection Rafael inserted between the naked woman and the masculine genitalia. It is common among birds that while practicing sexual activity, the act is rotational (as opposed to “normally” pushing back and forward). Putting the genitalia near the head is not a one time incident. Haim has found that the connection between the naked woman and masculine genitalia is widely caught in paintings belonged to Rafael. 


La Fornarina

La Fornarina

The name is given after one of Rafael’s preferable women, who was used as a model to Rafael’s in the last stage of his career. The history of the painting tells as that after working with her, Rafael died out of over stressing work. I personally prefer that painting, as it is a very beautiful one. I have first seen La Fornarina in Rome, while I was in Barberini palace. On the hand of La Fornarina, you may notice the peace of fabric signed by Rafael. I hope you would find it interesting as I had. Why should it be interesting? Because Rafael’s name is misspelled. It is the only picture signed by Rafael, and it is misspelled. Strange, isn’t it?

Rafael Is Criticizing Sexual Habits

In the picture “Scuola di Atene“, Rafael represents a controversial bargain – selling of men in the market on daylight. In this awful negotiation, you may notice the man on the right insisting that he rathers the other slave, not the one he who has been offered. 

The Bargain

On the background of the scene, Rafael presents three controversial sexual habits. On one there are three people operating BDSM sexual activity:

the BDSM

The second involves what seems to be compulsive sex:

The Compulsary

And finally, a man undressing a woman( or another man?) :

The Undressing

Aside from these pictures in the background, in the picture you may catch the following cut:

baby offers himself

The little naked boys hand left hand is extending to the right man hand, holding it smoothly. The boy is undoubtly proffering himself (count the fingers).


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