The painting Reclining Nude, was done in 1917 by the Italian Amedeo Modigliani who lived from 1884-1920. Reclining Nude is oil painting on canvas, 23 7/7 high x 36 1/2 inches wide or 60.6 x 92.7 centimeters. It is currently owned and displayed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City having been acquired from the Mr. And Mrs. Klaus G. Perls Collection in 1997 (http: (www.met.org).
The voluptuous nude woman lies across the entire width of the painting in a provocative pose. Her hands and part of her arms and her feet and most of her legs are outside the picture. The very dark background appears to be a bed cover with which the very alive orange-ish glow of her skin is starkly in contrast. A pillow of white cradles her head and arms and a trail of white cover lies beneath her hips, providing additional stark contrast to the dark background and vivid skin tone. The woman's dark hair is another contrasting element. Her elongated, pensive face with it's long nose appears to be sad. She is either resting or sleeping, perhaps after making love to a now absent lover. Her features are darkly outlined and heavy. The view of her body is from above and at close range. Her breasts are full and sensual and her waist is trim. The dark hair in her exposed armpit makes her seem particularly vulnerable. Her pubic hair is not visible due her lower body being twisted away from the viewers eyes. Her thighs are unexpectedly heavier or perhaps just more muscular than the rest of her body. Perhaps she is a dancer with well-developed legs. She appears to be graceful and supple.
The style seems somewhat impressionistic, though the colors are far from vague and pastel. In fact, they are fairly dramatic, as if an emotional story lies behind this figure. The lines are strong and simple and the colors intense. The lines are very curvy and sensuous and the body seems stretched out or elongated, especially the face. With great simplicity of line and color Modigliani tells a strong story.
There is both passion and sorrow. Her body is bold and openly sexual. The viewer cannot help but be enthralled with the psychological questions posed by the reclining nude. Perhaps her lover is an unavailable married man who she must meet in secret for snatched moments of passion.
2) Woman with a Towel, was painted in 1894 by Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917) it is done in pastel on cream-colored wove paper with red and blue fibers throughout and is 37 3/4 x 30 inches or 95.9 x 76.2 centimeters. It is owned and displayed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, having been acquired in 1929 from the H.O. Havemeyer Collection, at the bequest of Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, (29.100.37) the painting is signed and dated at the upper right (http: (www.met.org).
Woman with a Towel is unquestionably impressionistic in style, showing visible brushwork, vague shapes and unblended colors. The painting offers a study in shadow more than light and shadow. The woman's face is not visible, which seems an unusual perspective for the artist to take. Her body is voluptuous and sensual with only one full breast exposed. The draping of the towel, exaggerated in size, twisted and as the lightest area of the painting, draws attention and is especially sensual. The painting is the study of a pose and of a mood. The figure is mysterious. The viewer must wonder what sort of expression she has on her invisible face. Has she just stepped out of a bath shared with her lover?
The curves of the woman's body are what draws attention. She is strong, not delicate. Perhaps she is pregnant. There is a sense of both mass and movement in the painting. Both the woman and the towel are large and strong. Her body is outlined in strong dark charcoal lines. The background is quite abstract although it is evident that there is a mirror and it is probably a bathroom. The yellow blue and green of the background are blurred with vertical strokes that contrast with the curvature of the lines of the body. The dark mass of the woman's hair seems sensual and pensive. The smudging of the pastels on the right side of the painting gives a greater sense of texture and movement. There is plenty of light in the picture, but the viewer cannot tell where the light comes from. The scene is somewhat dramatic or theatrical as the figure, seen from an unusual angle, definitely expresses a mood, however mysterious it may be.
3)Nude on a Sofa, by German artist Fritz Steinmetz-Noris, born in 1860, is an oil painting done on wood, 3 1/4 X 7 1/8 inches in size. It is owned and displayed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, acquired in 1975 as a bequest of Mary Jane Dastich, in memory of her husband, General Frank Dastich. The previous provenance or ownership of this painting is unknown to questionable background during the Nazi era. This is one of the painting under study in the Met's list of painting with incomplete provenance during that time period (http: (www.met.org).
Nude on a Sofa is, of all four of these paintings the most realistically presented nude. This woman is presented in a classically voluptuous pose. There is no question about her mood and sexually. She is sensual and receptive. She is most probably a prostitute. She reclines on a luxurious furry bed in a suggestive position. The textured brocaded, tapestry-like background and the obelisk object in the foreground are both suggestive of exotic oriental influence. The contrasting shades of light and dark are predominant, suggesting a dark intriguing background for a very sexy woman. Her body and her bed are starkly white in contrast to what surrounds here. She is the light beckoning to her lover or client as the case may be. Her body is full, womanly, real and very sensual. Her pose and face definitely evoke a come hither atmosphere. The painting conveys the opposite of innocence and purity. In fact it conveys erotic decadence. This woman, without a doubt has quite a story to tell. She looks well satisfied, well fed, happy, flourishing. Most likely she has many lovers, or at least one that she enjoys being with and who pampers and cares for her.
4) Woman with a Cat, painted in 1921 by French artist Fernand Leger, is an oil on canvas 51 3/8 x 35 1/4 inches, or 130.5 x 89.5 centimeters in size. It is owned and displayed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, having been acquired as the gift of Florene M. Schoenborn, in 1994. It is signed F. Leger, 21 at the lower right. This painting was previously owned by Gottlieb Friedrich Reber, Lugano, Switzerland; M. Knoedler & Co., New York, (1958); Mr. And Mrs. Samuel a. Marx, Chicago (1958-1964); Mrs. Florene M. Schoenborn (formerly Mrs. Samuel a. Marx), New York, (1964-1994) (http: (www.met.org).
This work is cubist in form as the woman's nude body is shaped as if it were put together mechanically on various planes from geometric shapes. She seems more of a robot than a real woman, with her shapely body built of cones and spheres. There is an attempt to humanize the figure with a magazine and the black cat, however she seems far from real. The single dehumanized eye on a face otherwise devoid of feature combines with the cylindrical neck to create a sense of detachment. There is no emotion evidenced in the painting. This absence of feeling is increased by the figure being entirely in unemotional blacks, whites and…