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The History of Nudes in Art and Nude Photography

The Nude in Art

It goes without saying that the beauty of the human nude form has been a source of inspiration for as long as artists and sculptors have felt the need to create works of art. From the earliest of times people have appreciated the naked human body and it’s thought that the very first work of nude art on record is the small, 35,000 year old ivory carving of a naked woman found in Germany’s Hohle Fels Cave. Found several years ago, this tiny but explicitly detailed carving has even been described by some as prehistoric pornography!

The Nude in Antiquity

The nude form was celebrated by the Greco-Roman and Near Eastern culture with works of art depicting the various Gods and Goddesses as the embodiment of physical perfection. Male nude works of art celebrated the strength, power and athleticism of the body with female works of nude art celebrating fertility and the innate seductive nature of the female form. However these early nudes of ancient Greek and Roman times were not necessarily created to be sexually appealing; the emphasis was on physical human perfection.

The Nude of The Middle Ages and The Renaissance

As Paganism gave way to Christianity, attitudes towards the nude changed. Chastity, celibacy and purity were emphasised and so there are very few depictions of the nude in medieval art. However with the birth of the Renaissance the nude once again became something to celebrate in art form, with artists such as Donatello, Pollaiulo, Michelangelo and Titian creating classic works of nude art during this era.

The Nude in Later Art

The Baroque period of the late 16th to the early 18th Centuries saw a continuation of the appreciation of the nude as seen in antiquity. Male nudes were still based on mythical heroes however this is also the era when Rubens painted his female nudes with their famed generous proportions. The 18th and 19th centuries saw the Neoclassical and Romantic movements and nude art moved away from the mythological context, setting nudes in contemporary situations thus challenging social boundaries. Manet created his infamous Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe and Gustave Courbet of the Realist movement created increasingly erotic and, at the time, scandalous works such as The Origin Of The World and Sleep. Renoir and Degas continued depicting erotic nudes in their work and nudes became more acceptable as the 20th century progressed with the appeal of the nude in art remaining strong to this day.

The History of Nude and Glamour Photography

Early Nude Photography

As a natural progression of the nude in art, nude photography probably began with the invention of Louis Daguerre’s ‘Daguerreotype’ photographic process in 1835. Since this method of producing images was costly, nude images were only available to artists and those with money such as the Upper Classes. Nude photographs at this time were only legally passed for artists to use as studies however surviving examples of these early Daguerreotypes depict seductive and sensual nudes, suggesting that they were in fact privately circulated as erotica or pornography. With the development of William Fox Talbot’s calotype process in 1841 it became possible to create multiple copies of images. Paris is arguably the place where trade for nude images began, with photographic studios making money by selling illicit nude images. Where there’s a will there’s a way! La Beaute was a monthly French Magazine for artists and nude images could be mail ordered as postcards to provide inspiration for life-drawings. However as we know erotic appreciation of the naked female form has an undeniable, almost innate, attraction and soon street vendors and tobacco shops were buying the images to secretly sell to the curious. Postcard size images being easily hidden in pockets! Around 1855 it become increasingly hard to prove that nude images were being created purely for artistic inspiration and at this time no more were registered as ‘académie.’ So the business of trading nude photographs had to go completely underground to avoid people being prosecuted.

nude from 1800s
Nude from 1874, thanks to Retro Porn Archive

The Early 20th Century

As camera design and image processing improved and progressed so too did the art of nude photography it also became more widespread. Early nude photographers of this era include E J Bellocq who created nude images of prostitutes in the legalized red light district of Storyville in New Orleans and Julian Mandel whose nudes in natural settings were part of the German avant-garde ‘new age outdoor’ movement. Other notable nude photographers from this era include John Everard, naturist photographer Zoltån Glass and Horace Roye.

nude 1900s
Nude from 1900's, thanks to Retro Porn Archive

Mid 20th Century

The first magazines dedicated to the nude were coyly marketed as either art or naturist publications. British weekly magazine Photo Bits was published between 1898 and 1914 and is often cited as the first ‘pin-up’ magazine and the naturist magazine Health and Efficiency, also British and still running, began in 1900. In a different style altogether the pornographic Tijuana Bibles published in America were under the counter comic books depicting nudes in cartoon form. The curious had to get their hands on whatever was available!

1920s nudesNudes from 1920's, thanks to Retro Porn Archive

In the second half of the 20th Century the launch of Hugh Hefner’s legendary Playboy magazine in 1953 began a whole new era for nude photography. The first ever issue released in December 1953 featured a naked Marilyn Monroe on the cover and as the centrefold. Monroe’s status as a star and likeable personality helped to water down the controversial nature of the magazine and set the precedence for future female film and television personalities to pose nude for magazines. In Britain Harrison Mark’s publications included Spick and Span, Beautiful Britons and Kamera were also popular mid-century.

1950s nude
Nude from 1950's, thanks to Retro Porn Archive

Both Hefner and Harrisons’ magazines featured nude and semi-nude images without a glimpse of any pubic hair however around 1965 Bob Guccione’s Penthouse magazine featured the first image of full frontal nudity complete with pubic hair – a move that was considered scandalous at the time.

The Evolution of Nude Photography

It was around this time that the term Glamour Photography came into use and it can be useful to consider the various paths nude photography has taken since the 1960s.
  • Nude photography is the term used for images that depict the nude as a study or as part of an art style photograph.
  • Erotic photography describes nude images that have a sexually suggestive element. They may appear voyeuristic with the subject not looking into the camera.
  • Glamour photography depicts sexuality but in a less overt way than erotic photography. Glamour shots include smiles, eye contact and interaction and flirtation with the camera.
  • Pornographic photography and its close relative fetish photography have a definite, sexually explicit element.

nude 1960s
Nude from 1960's, thanks to Retro Porn Archive

Contemporary Nude and Glamour Photography

By the 1970’s full frontal and pubic area focussed images were becoming more commonplace. Paul Raymond launched Men Only in 1971 and Club International the following year and it is still the Paul Raymond Publications Company that produces many of the UK’s soft publications such as Escort, Mayfair, Men’s World and Razzle to this day. Hustler magazine established in the US in 1974 by Larry Flynt became the more explicit alternative to Playboy and Penthouse.

Daily nudes gallery thanks to MC Nudes

By the late 1990s however demand for magazines featuring nudes declined and sales dropped with the rise in popularity of the internet. Many of the long established ‘top shelf’ magazines now have their own website featuring nudes and also include films featuring their models. The ‘Lad Mag’ movement (Loaded, Nuts, FHM) in the UK saw a swing back to soft and glamour style nude images often featuring television personalities only known in Britain.

The Internet And Nude Photography

The birth and success of the internet created a surge in the rise of nude photographers, with digital imaging and the accessibility of the internet making it the place to promote nude photography and filmmaking.

Modern day daily nudes image, thanks to MC Nudes

Notable nude photographers presently redefining eroticism via although not exclusively through the internet include Terry Richardson, Richard Kern and Natacha Merrit to name just a few. The rise of the internet has also seen an explosion in photographers and sites that use this medium solely as the showcase for their work. The prolific Norwegian photographer Petter Hegre created a site that updates every day with a new gallery featuring nudes and weekly with a new film. Some photographers who work in a similar way include the German photographer simply known as Jan with, Argentinean Walter Bosque with and Ron Harris with Other internet nude art sites feature the work of several photographers and include Met Art, FemJoy and Domai. These websites and the websites belonging to the previously mentioned individual photographers all have in common a leaning towards erotic nude art as opposed to pornography, although there can be some crossover. As the internet continues to expand, new and previously considered ‘amateur’ photographers can now, with the aid of viral marketing, get their works of nude art out for all to see. Thus showing that attitudes towards the art of nude photography have come a long way since the early days of the illicit daguerreotype nudes of the 19th Century!

Nude of the day, thanks to Met Art

australian nudes links

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international 'nudes' websites mini-reviews

Hegre Art
The prolific Norwegian photographer Petter Hegre created to showcase his superb work. Hegre Art updates every day with a new gallery featuring nudes and weekly with a new film. Simply awesome, and one of the best Nudes sites on the web.

Nude Thea...

Yanna nude in the bath...

Anna S nude...

MC Nudes
With its diverse range of models and shooting locations, MC Nudes is an artistic nudity hub that’s different from the competition. It has a sleek site design delivering both usability and minimalistic browsing – content wise, you’re treated to HD videos and images going up to 22 megapixels in size. is also pioneering online 3D entertainment, being one of the few erotic photography websites to bring its members an array of videos with depth-perception capabilities as standard. The content is very classy and the models are almost untouched by the post-production team – a great site that should definitely be visited if you enjoy real beauty in its purist form.

Daily nudes video, thanks to MC Nudes

Body In Mind
Back in 1997, artist and writer D. Bell set about celebrating female beauty, and put Body in Mind on the web. Body in Mind is all about beauty and beauty-focussed photography, and was the first website to cater to the market for wholesome nude images of women. Body in Mind is more than just beautiful photography of beautiful nude women though, it features daily news items about female beauty, short fiction, interviews, political commentary, aesthetic analyses writing, drawings, photography, and observation. A magnificent site dedicated beautiful nudes.

David Nudes
Nominated in 2011 for ‘site of the year’ at the Xbiz awards, has a portfolio rivaled by very few similarly niched websites. On the plus side, you’ll find exclusive content, high definition videos and the all important zipped photo sets every adult entertainment website should have. The models here are the epitome of beauty and the antithesis of slutty – real girls with amazing bodies and innocent, amateur personalities. Over 900 galleries and more than 200 videos are inside; I just wish I had time to check them all out!

FTV Girls
The FTV in ‘FTV Girls’ stands for ‘first time videos’, a testament to the nature of the content produced by the site. I was amazed from the get go; the producers here definitely know how to pick a beautiful babe! Starting way back in 2002, has accumulated a collection of some 2,700 videos that will blow your mind. If you’re like me and enjoy HD videos starring gorgeous nude models, give this site a chance!

Met Art
Often regarded as the very first of its kind, Met Art has taken the Internet world by storm with its steamy collection of high quality erotic photography. The very best in nudity and beauty have been the foundation of for over a decade – nothing short of pure heaven makes its way through the studio and in front of the lens. With 720 HD video downloads and images up to 4500 x 3000 pixels, no one can claim that this site isn’t one step ahead of the competition. Fancy getting a taste of the original artistic nudity website? Visit today and never look back!

Ron Harris
Ron Harris is a world-famous photographer known for his work within the realm of erotic productions. He’s spent the best part of his life taking amazing women to wondrous locations and having them share their bodies with the camera. His site only features models between the ages of 18 and 23 and the material provided is a selection of solo stripping and masturbation with rare treats of girl on girl action. has 1080 HD videos and images up to a resolution of 4368 x 2912 pixels, making it the perfect home for a fan of artistic nudity and high class erotic entertainment.

LSG Models
For three years, LSG Models has provided its members with everyday babes that want to share their wonderful bodies with the world. With models ranging from 18 to 30 in age and niches from nervous stripping to full on fisting, is certainly known for its range of entertainment and commitment to detail. You won’t believe the beauty some of these girls have – stunning doesn’t even begin to describe the top tier of women that feature on this site. Exclusive 720 HD videos, zipped photo sets and no download limits are just a few reasons why visiting LSG Models is a good idea.

Welcome to the softcore, outdoor shooting website of the moment – will bring you a world of happiness with its world-class nature-orientated photography. After two minutes inside the member’s area I was sold, what could be better than 4000 x 2638 pixel images of the world’s best looking women in remarkable locations from around the globe? You’ve never seen artistic nudity like this anywhere else – a one of a kind site that definitely deserves all of the attention it can get. What are you waiting for?

Met Models
If you’re looking for the very best in glamorous, jaw dropping artistic nudity, is one of the places to begin your hunt. Created way back in May of 2005, the site has remained loyal to its users by bringing them one new photo set every single day of the year. Models are beyond gorgeous and come from the real world – pornstars and sluts need not apply. Containing over 250,000 images, Met Models has more erotic photography than you can shake a stick at. Overall, a very clean site with the added bonus of free live solo shows multiple times a day – what’s not to love?

Beautiful Nude
Natural European sweethearts form the basis of entertainment on Beautiful Nude. I was impressed with the site’s easy navigation and elegant layout – accessing the content was a piece of cake and let me tell you, that’s not the only sweet thing about! A heavy emphasis is put upon the nature of artistic nudity – that is, the girls are almost always in their birthday suits. With less pictures wasted on watching the model strip, Beautiful Nude spends as much time examining every inch of the female body as it possibly can. HD videos and amazing image quality, what more could a pure nude addict want?

Explicite Art
Explicite Art is the brainchild of French photographer John Root – someone that loves to produce adult entertainment and has done so for several years. The site’s selling point is its 100% unique content and glamorous production style, creating a seamless collection of amateur European babes that love to strip in front of the camera. I was impressed with the formats provides, with 3000 x 2000 pixel images and 720 HD videos. Lacking in very few places but delivering in plenty of others, this site is worth visiting and joining should definitely be considered.

Walter Bosque Art
Walter Bosque Art defines itself as the very first ‘Latin American website of fine art photography’. Artistic nudity is the bread and butter of this site – once inside, I was treated to an array of gorgeous models that all appeared to be of South American origin. The landscape of Latin America is also used for the shoots, making an authentic journey into the world of South American beauty possible on two accounts. I was impressed with the 75,000 images inside and you can’t go wrong with 150 movies. Combining high resolution images with HD videos, doesn’t fall short of expectations.

Jan Nudes
Simply known as ‘Jan’, the photographer of this site definitely likes to stay in the dark about his history and photography philosophy. That aside, I can’t complain about the quality of his productions – this guy knows how to shoot! With a majority of the content produced In Russia and the Ukraine, a decent Eastern European vibe runs throughout the artistic nudity pictured here. is relatively new – created in 2010, it definitely looks promising and could very well be the next big thing in pure nude entertainment. Although the archives are running a little slim, it’s made up by the fact that the join fee is low and the second month’s payment is next to nothing!

Ero Berlin
Ero Berlin launched in September of 2009 and has been making quite a name for itself ever since. In short, the site produces artistic pieces featuring gorgeous models, mainly of European descent, stripping and sometimes, masturbating in public. The site has a reputation for being quite unique, in that it sometimes shoots very alternative niches including urination. I can only assume that everything is exclusive to and it’s just as well – the girls here are absolutely amazing. There’s no doubt about it, this site delivers some very intense nude photography that should put a smile on anyone’s face.

Domai might not have the prettiest site design, but don’t let that fool you – the content here is top notch and ready to be enjoyed. Being entirely softcore, this isn’t the place where you’re going to get extreme high quality porn; true glamour and authentic nude imagery is the philosophy preached by Domai. I was more than impressed with the 3000 x 2000 pixel images and zipped photo sets, although a few extras being added wouldn’t be out of the question. The site appealed to me and should appeal to you too if real softcore nudity is your cup of tea.

Pretty Nudists
With very few sites providing members content featuring real nudists that love to be one with nature, I was happy when I came across As it currently stands, Pretty Nudists has over 20,000 photos and more than 300 unique models for you to enjoy. The member’s area boasts a smooth navigation bar and zipped photo sets so you can effortlessly download more than your fair share of artistic nudity. What’s more, members of Pretty Nudists get free access to 7 other bonus sites at absolutely no extra cost. Bonus sites and amazing exclusive content, what more could you want?

Nudist Nudes
With a site title like Nudist Nudes, I hardly think you can be confused as to what’s going on in the inside. At the moment, an archive 50,000 images strong is available alongside 7 bonus sites bringing you similarly niched content. With daily updates and authentic nudity, those that love to see women at one with nature will find it all at A wonderful site that I could spend plenty of time enjoying – the range of content was top notch and you can’t go wrong with a hub that has more bonus content than you can shake your stick at.

Retro Porn Archive
Bored of generic, modern era entertainment staring teenage sluts and hung athletic studs? I can recommend this site if so – Retro Porn Archive is a hub dedicated to adult entertainment from the early part of the 20th century. Nothing past the 1960s is offered and scenes dating back to 1900 can be watched. If nothing else, can be one of those sites that really takes you back to the earliest forms of blue entertainment. Serious men, obedient women and black and white film – what’s not to love about this one of a kind site?

Fedorov HD
This website is a new one to the world of artistic nudity. Created in late 2010, it hopes to show members the lifelong work of Fedorov, a dedicated photographer with a love for erotic art in its purist form. The member’s area has a very fresh feel and the site design definitely captures a mood unlike any other. A lot of the content is full-on nudity with some masturbation and insertion chucked in for good measure. releases two new photo sets per week and definitely looks like a site destined for great things.

Nudist Camp
If there has ever been a nudity website that differs from the rest, Nudist Camp is the one. I was interested from the get go – the premise of the site is rather simple and involves photographers visiting the Black Sea in order to take exclusive pictures of people that live their lives completely in the buff. Think of it as an archive for some of the best nudist holidays in existence – definitely up the alley of anyone that enjoys the wonders of naturism. Good content although sadly, I didn’t think there was too much here to stay around for.

Free Form Studios
I can’t say I care too much for the introduction of Free Form Studios – a simple picture, although of a very gorgeous model on a beach, should hardly do the website justice. After getting inside the member’s area, I was happy to see that an average of 2 new photo sets are added to the archive every week without fail. The models all appear to be amateur with a majority being white, although is no stranger to shooting hot ebonies, Latinas and Asians. Sadly, no zipped photo sets are provided and there is a distinct lack of videos in the member’s area. The content is mainly softcore and some interesting black and white scenes have been produced – a rather disappointing site, but still has some redeeming features.