Dame Laura Knight self portrait

Nude is by and large used only to refer to the absence of clothing or any covering in general.

(Nude beaches, Nude model, etc) Naked, on the other hand, has far wider connotations than nude. (Naked eye, Naked truth…)

It was the art historian Kenneth Clark who claimed there is a difference: A naked human body is exposed, vulnerable, embarrassing, he wrote in his 1956 book The Nude. “The word ‘nude’, on the other hand, carries, in educated usage, no uncomfortable overtone.

The Naked and the Nude

by Robert Graves

For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.

Lovers without reproach will gaze
On bodies naked and ablaze;
The Hippocratic eye will see
In nakedness, anatomy;
And naked shines the Goddess when
She mounts her lion among men.

The nude are bold, the nude are sly
To hold each treasonable eye.
While draping by a showman’s trick
Their dishabille in rhetoric,
They grin a mock-religious grin
Of scorn at those of naked skin.

The naked, therefore, who compete
Against the nude may know defeat;
Yet when they both together tread
The briary pastures of the dead,
By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
How naked go the sometime nude!


Think of occasions when you have been ‘naked’ and ‘nude’, and what you feel is the difference. Consider the works selected for the Naked Portrait display in Room 16 – how they make you feel, and how they demonstrate the meanings of ‘nude’ and ‘naked’. You may either choose one of these works, or visit the rest of the gallery and choose your own nude/naked portrait.

Make notes, including close observed detail.

Write an account of your selected artwork from the point of view of one of the following –

A sitter

B artist

C the person who commissioned it

Include the detail from your own close observation and note taking.

Naked or Nude

What do you think?
It works – even at that scale.
I agree – can’t see the joins.
Ha ha. So the title, In The Piss, still ok.
Yea. Now it’s enlarged the urine looks more like pink blossom – got a Chinese art look about it.
The yellow of the tiles is spot on.
I saw something on Facebook about what the colour of your piss says about your health.
I’d say it was verging on the colour of dehydration.
Ain’t we all.
Speak for yourself.
The thick black line round the images is effective – we look like those paper dolls you could get years ago – you know – the ones that came with outfits you could hook on by folded tabs?
Oh yes! And the shoes with little slits to tuck the feet into.
What’s wrong with my foot – it looks deformed!
Uh? Oh – it has disappeared somewhat. Enlarging the figures must have caused some distortion. But overall the superimposing looks good.
Three of the nipples have disappeared – was that intentional – I can’t remember?
See the way the taller males left arm crosses his body to touch the other male. In doing so It covers his own nipples.
Yea. But see how the taller male has right arm around the shoulders of the shorter one so his hand rests just above his right nipple.
I like that – relaxed but sensual – like their penii.
As we are now referring to subjects in third person, can we safely say we no longer see it as a self portrait?
Ok. Let’s sigh it off.

Eveline Williams