Study of a Nude
North America, American, Ohio
34 in. x 26 in. (86.36 cm x 66.04 cm)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Margaret Freer
© Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Duveneck’s "Study of a Nude" exemplifies an important teaching technique of the Munich Academy in the nineteenth century; it is also consistent with the School's focus on method rather than subject. The loose qualities of this “oil sketch” were intentional, meant to draw attention to the manner in which the artist handled paint. Instructors such as Wilhelm Liebl (1844–1900) made such pieces to demonstrate to students the appropriate way to apply and manipulate the oil medium. In Munich, this meant the difficult technique of painting "alla prima", which required the artist to blend paints either on the canvas or on the palette to create specific transitions from one tone to the next. Here, Duveneck established the rich tonal values of the skin on this figure’s back and arms by mixing colors in broad, sweeping strokes. Of course such works were executed rapidly, beginning with a warm, dark wash of paint over the canvas and building up the form progressively, with the goal of maintaining the sense of the paint’s inherent fluidity.