Evolution of Beauty- Vanessa Addington

What is beauty? It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; no truer words were ever spoken.  The idea of beauty can be vastly different given the culture or time period you are observing.  This gallery is a brief examination of feminine beauty depicted through out history in art. 

This is an early depiction of the female form. Often these statues are considered symbols of fertility goddess, although some people believe that they may have been effigies for the deceased. In this example the artist uses simple lines and shapes to outline the basics of the female form. The artist has given emphasis to the parts of the body deemed important to the continuation of life. This is apparent in the large hips and breast of the statue which represents fertility. Although its lack of detail makes it hard to know what these people deemed as beauty it is easy to assume by the accentuated bust and hips that fertility was deemed as an important part of their view of women.
This statues represents Egyptian mother Goddess Mut. In this statue the female form is represented in more detail. The artist uses texture to symbolize her wig, while he uses varying lines to symbolize the cloth draped around her hips. Although it was said that Mut herself could not bare children she is still represented in this statue having large hips and breast that have been know to represent fertility. The wig on her head is a representation of what was deemed as beautiful for the ancient Egyptians. These wigs appear on many statues and paintings of godly forms and people they would view as godly.
While no longer focusing on fertility representations of the female from still held religious implications at this time. This is a statue representation of the Virgin Mary holding the christ child. The softens of the alabaster the statue is made from allowed for great detail to be carved into the statue. The artist uses long rounded layered lines to give the appearance of draping cloth over the feminine figure. The use of smaller more curved lines gives the appearance of curly hair on both her and the child. While this statue is not made specifically to represent a form of beauty it can still hold clues to how people viewed feminine beauty.
This painting depicts the Virgin Mary and child. The Virgin is draped in a lavishly dyed piece of cloth that denotes her importance while the halo around her head and that of the child represents their holiness. The artist uses light to accentuate the softness of the Virgins features. The Virgin is painted with soft feminine features and long fair hair. Like other artist before him Botticelli uses religious figures to denote what is seen as beautiful features for women.
This portrait of a mother and her child uses color and texture to denote the wealth of the woman pictured. The artist uses bright colors and rich textures to decorate her clothing which would have only been available to the more wealthy people of the time. The use of gold to accent the dress and jewelry adds to the sense of wealth in the painting. Often with portraits artist would depict the subjects in them as young and fair giving them the appearance of good health. The woman's rich clothing, pale complexion, and soft features would have been deemed as beautiful for the time period.
This painting depicts a woman in the makeup and cloths that were deemed beautiful in the Meiji Era. The name of the painting shows that this painting was made as a representation of beauty for the time. Much like the painters of Europe this painter has used softer lines to accentuate the softness of the female face. The woman's dark hair and pale skin was seen as a sign of great beauty through out this time period. Fair skin was often seen as beautiful in many different cultures and could be used as a representation of an easier life that was lead away from the hardships of manual labor.
In this painting we see a young girl laying idly on her bed draped in a soft gossamer like dress. The artist uses pastel colors along with soft textures and light to add to the effect of feminine softness in the painting. Through out history it was often believed that a beautiful woman would have soft features and an equally soft nature about her. The artist depicts this with hie use of textures like silk and gossamer. He also makes the woman's features appear soft with his use of softer lighting through out the painting.
In this small figure of a woman sunbathing we can see how artist start to depict women as smaller more fragile creatures. They no longer depict women with the accentuated hips and breast that denote fertility. Instead the artist focus on softer less curved lines. The woman is depicted thinner than her historic counterparts. This shows the lessening importance of fertility in a cultures views of feminine beauty. The artist uses softer less defined lines and lighter colors to make the figure appear soft and lady like.
In this photograph of a 1950's model the artist relies heavily on the use of light and shadow to make the model appear soft and feminine. During this time period beauty was more glamorized that it had been previously. The use of soft light on the models face along with heavily accentuated lips and eyes gives the woman a glamours yet soft appearance.
This is a picture of Kate Moss a well know fashion model. We can see her that the photographer uses a pose that accentuates the woman's thin lengthy frame. While the picture is made to appear on the more grungy side the photographer uses textures like the tulle in the tutu to give it a feminine softness. The use of rich colors and darker lighting add to the glamour of this particular photo. This photo is another example of how beauty has become less about fertility or holiness and how it focuses more on the thinness of a woman's frame and softness of her features.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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