Nude Youth Sitting by the Sea (1836)
Oil on canvas
Purchased by Napoleon III’s civil list in 1857, gift of the emperor. Louvre.
Like the Oedipus painted by Flandrin’s master Ingres, this study of a nude youth was sent to Paris in 1837 as representative of the work of the fourth-year students at the French Academy in Rome. Ingres’ purism is here taken to extremes: the human body is close to achieving the primeval form of the circle.
This refined nude is a perfect example of the neo-classical esthetic practised by Ingres’ students. The backdrop of a seascape heightens the rather eerie atmosphere of the scene, showing how this generation of artists undertook to renew the classical esthetic and realign it with contemporary tastes. Hippolyte Flandrin was a superb portrait painter, one of Ingres’ most talented disciples, and one of the finest exponents of neo-classical art. He is also one of the major figures in the history of religious painting in the 19th century. (louvre.fr)