Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats




Stark Naked

The women's baths



I believe, in the whole, there were two hundred women.... The first sofas were covered with cushions and rich carpets, on which sat the ladies; and on the second, their slaves behind them,.... all being in the state of nature, that is, in plain English, stark naked.... There were many amongst them as exactly proportioned as ever any goddess was drawn by the pencil of... Titian,.. I was charmed by their civility and beauty... Tis no less than death for a man to be found in one of these places.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Letter to Elizabeth Rich on her experiences in the women's baths at Sophia, dated 1 April 1717


Jean-Leon Gerome
Turkish Bath


Jean-Leon Gerome
Turkish Bath


Jean-Leon Gerome
Turkish Bath


Jean-Leon Gerome
The Teaser of the Narghile


Jean-Leon Gerome
Turkish Bath


Jean-Leon Gerome
Nude Woman


Jean-Leon Gerome
A Bath, Woman Bathing Her Feet


Jean-Leon Gerome
A Bath, Woman Bathing Her Feet


Although the Minoans and later the ancient Greeks had bathtubs, it was the Romans who made bathing popular. The epitome of Roman civilisation, Roman therme, or baths, were luxurious and spacious. Pools, walls and even floors were heated. Splendid examples of urban architecture, therme were places where men bathed, had manicures and pedicures, took steam baths and did gymnastic exercises. They were a focal point of social and political activity. Romans are known to have made momentous decisions whilst steaming in the baths or strolling about in sandals and towels. With the fall of the Roman empire, this glorious bath culture disappeared from the European scene. What later replaced it was certainly on a much more modest scale. Medieval Nuremberg, for instance, boasted a total of thirteen public "bathing rooms" in which huge wooden tubs were filled with hot water. There were also sometimes steam baths and resting rooms heated by tiled stoves. Such baths were not just venues for promoting body culture; they were also used as surgeries: teeth were pulled, blood was let, cupping-glasses were applied to the backs and chests of those with colds and minor operations were performed. Bathing rooms were frowned on by the Church owing to the voluptuous pleasures enjoyed in them. "Bath attendants" were licentious women who are said to have been the reason why King Wenceslas IV of Bohemia visited the bathing establishments of Prague, his capital, more frequently than was good for his sensitive skin. In the Near East, on the other hand, the ancient bath culture survived because going to a hammam (bath) is prescribed by Islam. Inspired by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's account of her travels in the region, the French painter Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres painted the women's section of a Turkish bathhouse. The celebrated master was eighty-three years old when he added the crowning touch to his oeuvre by depicting a Turkish bath scene. Ingres made hundreds of preliminary sketches for the painting before presenting it to Prince Charles-Louis-Napoleon in December 1859. Only a few weeks later, however, the painting was returned to Ingres, allegedly because the prince's wife, Eugenie de Montijo, was scandalised by the naked ladies depicted so sensuously in this remarkable work. When Turkish Bath was exhibited in a second, essentially unchanged version, the nudes were what brought the painting widespread public acclaim. Critics praised it as a "tryst with Oriental coquetry" or, rather crudely, as a "feast of carnal delights" and a "still life of sensual pleasures". It certainly had an impact on Picasso and other artists, who admired it both for its composition and formal idiom. After this masterpiece, Ingres was no longer thought of as a "bloodless exponent of Neoclassicism". From now on he was a groundbreaking "revolutionary".


ean-Auguste Dominique Ingres

Turkish Bath


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