Battle of the Nudes

1470s–80s
(Italian, 1431/32–1498)
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.)
Catalogue raisonné: Hind I,191,D.I.1 ; Bartsch XIII.202.2
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Location: not on view

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Considered a groundbreaking work in the history of the Italian Renaissance, the CMA holds the only known impression of the print's first state.

Description

This engraving is one of the earliest Renaissance prints to portray the nude male body in action. Antonio del 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.
Battle of the Nudes

Battle of the Nudes

1470s–80s

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

(Italian, 1431/32–1498)
Italy, 15th century

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