Exhibitions/ Art Object

[Female Nude with Mask]

Unknown (French)
ca. 1870
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 26 x 19.1 cm (10 1/4 x 7 1/2 in.)
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005
Accession Number:
Not on view
Even as she seems to part her tresses to expose her naked body, the model here masks her face in an effort to conceal her identity. While drawing, painting, and sculpture of the human figure commonly involve elements of transformation, idealization, or the combination of features from various models, photography usually presents a recognizable image of its subject. It was not uncommon, therefore, for models who routinely posed nude for artists in other media to hide their faces when standing naked before the camera. For the viewer—not always an artist looking for help in figure drawing—the mask added an element of erotic frisson.
Inscription: [no inscriptions or annotations visible]
[Galerie Texbraun, Paris]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, May 25, 1981

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Nineteenth Century Portraits, Landscapes, and Nudes," September 10, 1993–January 2, 1994.

University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara. "Image of Desire: Femininity, Modernity, and The Bird of Mass Culture in Nineteenth Century France," October 4, 1994–December 11, 1994.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France. "L'Art Du Nu au XIXe Siècle: Le Photographe et Son Modèle," October 14, 1997–January 18, 1998.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Naked before the Camera," March 27, 2012–September 9, 2012.

Aubenas, Sylvie. L'Art du nu au XIXe Siècle: Le Photographe et Son Modèle. Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1997. p. 126.

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