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Some religious conservatives may frown upon artworks that depict women au naturel. Hardcore feminists may dismiss them as objectification of women. The fact remains, however, that nudity in art is nothing new, and only the prudish and the narrow-minded will be shocked by it. The following artworks feature female nudes by the sea. The collection is preluded by the first stanza of a poem by Pablo Neruda (1904–1973), winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Oda a la bella desnuda

(primera estrofa)
por Pablo Neruda

Con casto corazón, con ojos
te celebro, belleza,
reteniendo la sangre
para que surja y siga
la línea, tu contorno,
que te acuestes en mi oda
como en tierra de bosques
o en espuma:
en aroma terrestre
o en música marina.

Ode to naked beauty

(first stanza)
by Pablo Neruda

With chaste heart, with pure eyes,
I celebrate you, beauty,
holding back the blood
so that it springs forth and follows
the line, your outline,
so that you lie down in my ode
as in forest land
or in sea foam,
in terrestrial aroma
or in sea music.

(translation by Barista Uno)

Click here to read the full text of Pablo Neruda’s poem with an English translation by a Spanish blogger.

The Yellow Sands, 1888
John Reinhard Weguelin (British, 1849–1927)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Woman in the Waves, 1868
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Reclining Nude, 1883
Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Baigneuses (Bathers), 1920
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973)
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

The Swan, 1915
Anders Leonard Zorn (Swedish, 1860–1920)
Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Fatata te Miti (By the Sea), 1892
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903)
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Twee naakte vrouwen aan het strand (Two naked women on the beach), 1891 – 1941
Leo Gestel (Dutch, 1881–1941)
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Baigneuse, ciel orageux (Bather, stormy sky), 1916
Félix Vallotton (Swiss/French, 1865–1925)
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

Deep Sea Bathers, 1920
Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)
Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Three Bathers on the Beach, 1909
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880–1938)
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum

Nude against Sea, no date
Alice Pike Barney (American, 1857–1931)
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Birth of Venus, 1875
Alexandre Cabanel (French, 1823–1889)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

~ Barista Uno

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