Cover

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Half Title, Series Page, Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-xiv

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Acknowledgements

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pp. xv-xvi

This book has been very long in the making. The project – from when I started thinking about skin as an art historical topic to the writing of the final manuscript – accompanied me to many places, from Hamburg and Frankfurt to Berlin, via Princeton to London, and it changed language along the way. What started as a post-doctoral project in Germany finally became an English-language book in London. ...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-16

Pedro Almodóvar’s 2011 film La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In) is about a person who does not live in their own skin. The title itself distances the ‘I’ from ‘the skin’ inhabited. It disconnects the metonymic association of a person’s skin with their life or identity made in many languages, for example in English when a person is called a ‘good skin’. ...

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2. The surface’s substance

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pp. 17-64

The naked areas an artist represents when painting a human body were traditionally not conceived of in terms of skin but of flesh. It was the body’s substance, its living matter, rather than its surface that was meant to be brought on to the canvas (or any other support such as wood, or a wall in the case of frescoes). ...

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3. Nervous canvas

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pp. 65-106

The new understanding of organic substances as textured and the extensive use of textile metaphors in medical descriptions of skin, which I discussed in the last chapter, joined a special attention to the artist’s hand in mid-eighteenth-century French art practice and theory. This conjuncture prompted attempts to imitate the skin’s tissue with an appropriate facture produced by the brush. ...

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4. Sensitive limit

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pp. 107-142

The appreciation of visible brushstrokes and the textures produced by them gradually faded over the course of the second half of the eighteenth century along with the rise of neoclassical aesthetics. Among the most distinctive features of neoclassicism were an emphasis on the contour and a preference for more finished surfaces. ...

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5. Skin colour

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pp. 143-192

The culture of neoclassicism centred around the ideal of a body in close borderlines. Based to a large extent on an appreciation of ancient sculpture and a fantasy of actual Greek bodies, it envisaged a body well shaped according to the contemporary ideals of femininity and masculinity, soft and rounded on the one side, athletic with moderate relief of muscles on the other, ...

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6. Seeing through the skin

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pp. 193-236

‘If you wish to succeed in drawing, it is essential to study the body even to a great level of detail’, stated Jean-Joseph Sue the younger in his 1788 Élémens d’anatomie, à l’usage des peintres, des sculpteurs et des amateurs. Ten still working as assistant to his eponymous father, professor of anatomy at the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, ...

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7. Hermetic borderline

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pp. 237-273

‘In this figure there are neither bones nor muscles, blood, life or relief, nothing finally that constitutes an imitation. The flesh tone is greyish [la carnation est bise] and monotonous … It is obvious that the artist sinned consciously, that he wanted to do badly, or that he believed he was resuscitating the pure and primitive manner of the masters of antiquity.’1 ...

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8. Epilogue: segretation

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pp. 274-280

As this book has shown, human nakedness imitated in colour was, over the course of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, increasingly understood in terms of skin rather than flesh. For a prominent nineteenth-century French art critic and theorist, Charles Blanc, who particularly appreciated the ‘smooth skin’ and the ‘perfection of the contour’ of Ingres’ nudes, skin even became a founding principle of his theories of drawing and colour. ...

Select bibliography

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pp. 281-303

Index

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pp. 304-314

Image Plates

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