Bathing Women



Bathing women have been an art motif since time immemorial. They feature on Greek vases and pottery as well as in Roman frescos and mosaics, and almost every painter in history has devoted one or more paintings to them. Rubens and Fragonard, for example, painted very sensuous bathers in provocative poses. When a bather in a Rubens painting allows a piece of cloth to fall over her loins, it only accentuates her nakedness and the erotic character of her pose, and the viewer feels like a voyeur. The bathing women of Cezanne and Renoir, by contrast, are more chaste and modest. Willem Hofhuizen’s bathing women alternate between provocative/voluptuous and modest/chaste. Sometimes the bathers' clothes hide their nakedness, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the women are fully clothed, sometimes they wear no clothes at all. Sometimes they blend in with the natural scenery, sometimes they are very much in the foreground.


Oil on panel 50x65
1967


Oil on panel 65x30
1967


Oil on panel 40x45
1967

 


Oil on canvas 70x60
1976

Detail

Detail


Oil on canvas 60x70
1976


Oil on canvas 60x70
1976


Oil on canvas 90x100
1982

Some of Willem Hofhuizen’s contemporaries regarded him as a "mannerist". But although he had thoroughly studied the artists of the Mannerist period, such as El Greco, Tintoretto, Vasaci and Titian (if the latter may be called a Mannerist), the only reason why he used exaggerated and distorted human forms in his paintings was to emphasize what he felt to be the static elegance of his subjects, not to create a dynamic effect.