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Battle of the Nudes

Battle of the Nudes

1470s–80s

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

(Italian, 1431/32-1498)

Engraving

Sheet: 42.4 x 60.9 cm (16 11/16 x 24 in.); Platemark: 42 x 60.4 cm (16 9/16 x 23 3/4 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1967.127

Catalogue raisonné: Hind I,191,D.I.1 ; Bartsch XIII.202.2

Description

This engraving is one of the earliest Renaissance prints to portray the nude male body in action. Pollaiuolo’s grimacing warriors appear like clones in different poses. The print may have functioned as a model for workshop apprentices studying human anatomy while learning to draw; however, the artist’s Latin signature suggests it also had an audience educated in literature. Art historians remain uncertain whether Pollaiuolo intended to depict a particular story or historical event. It is possible he created a deliberately ambiguous allegory that would appeal to patrons interested in interpreting symbols. For example, the continuous chain shared by the two central men could refer to an ancient idea that the body is the chain of the soul, only to be released in death.

See also
Collection: 
PR - Engraving
Department: 
Prints
Type of artwork: 
Print
Medium: 
Engraving

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