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The Language of the Nude: Four Centuries of Drawing the Human Body
Michel Corneille the Younger, Apollo and Thetis, n.d. Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash and white opaque watercolor on tan laid paper, 24.3 x 34.4 cm. Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection.

SACRAMENTO, CA.- Nearly 60 master drawings from the celebrated collection at the Crocker Art Museum will be seen in The Language of the Nude: Four Centuries of Drawing the Human Body, an exhibition dealing with the human figure in artists' training and narrative subjects. Tracing the development of the ideal nude from 16th-century Italy to 19th-century Germany , the exhibition includes many of the Crocker's most famous sheets, such as Charles Le Brun's Man Clinging to a Rock, François Boucher’s Birth of Venus and Jacques-Louis David's Funeral of a Hero. After making its debut at the Crocker from May 10 – July 27, 2008, this exhibition will embark on a national tour, becoming the first drawings exhibition from the Crocker to travel outside of California in 15 years.

For centuries, the nude body was the highest expression of human aspiration. Religious figures, gods and goddesses, heroes, and even personifications like Truth or Wealth were depicted by the undraped human figure. Divided into four sections, the show traces the development of life drawing and its uses across four centuries and four cultures: the influence of Michelangelo and Raphael in 16th-century Italy, the dialogue between Northern and Southern influences in the 17th-century Netherlands, the dominance of the French Academy in the 18th century, and the idealizing nude in new subjects in 19th-century Germany.

“The Language of the Nude is a rare opportunity to explore the nude's history through drawings,” said William Breazeale, Curator at the Crocker Art Museum . “The exhibition brings the beauties of our holdings, and of the human body, to new audiences in Sacramento and beyond."

The Crocker’s collection of approximately 1,400 master drawings is one of the finest early collections in the United States , with superb examples from the major European schools. The majority of the collection was assembled by Judge Edwin B. Crocker and his family during an extended trip to Europe from 1869-71 and was one of the largest private collections in this country at that time. While the Crockers frequently opened their gallery to the public, it remained a privately held collection until Margaret Crocker presented the building and collection to the City of Sacramento and California Museum Association in 1885.

The Language of the Nude is supported in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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