Bathing women in art  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The bathing woman[1] has been a popular theme in Western art since the Renaissance. The earliest pretexts include Diana and Actaeon , Bathsheba at Her Bath and Susanna and the elders.


Diana and Actaeon

Diana and Actaeon

Diana encounter with Acteon (or Actaeon), who saw her bathing naked.

Notable versions are

Bathsheba at Her Bath

Bathsheba at Her Bath

The story of David's seduction of Bathsheba is told that David, while walking on the roof of his house, saw Bathsheba, who was then the wife of Uriah, taking a bath. He immediately desired her and later made her pregnant.

And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. --King James bible

Susanna and the elders

Susanna and the elders

Susanna and the Elders is a biblical story. As the story of Susanna goes, a fair Hebrew wife is falsely accused by lecherous voyeurs. As she bathes in her garden, having sent her attendants away, two lusty elders secretly spy upon the lovely Susanna. The story was frequently painted from about 1500, not least because of the possibilities it offered for a prominent nude female. Some treatments emphasize the drama, others concentrate on the nude; a 19th century version by Francesco Hayez (National Gallery, London) has no elders visible at all.


See also

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