In the complete corpus of Fernando Botero's painted work it is not unusual to find direct references to classical art. Botero is a devoted student of the old masters having dedicated years to the study of classical compositions and painting techniques. As he started his lifelong pursuit of sculpture in the mid-1970s, he immediately turned to antiquity for sources of inspiration. Botero, much in the way of the great artists of the Italian Baroque, treasured ancient Roman sculpture as one of the foundations of our visual culture. Like many figurative artists before him, Botero adopted antique poses for his subjects ultimately reshaping the female body with his original personal style and surprising aesthetic solutions.
La Pudeur (Modesty) is visibly inspired by the Capitoline Aphrodite model: a standing Venus advances her hand to hide her pubis much as Manet would later do with Olympia. Nonetheless, while Aphrodite raises her other hand to hide her breasts, Botero humorously chose to hide Modesty’s buttocks therefore making her protuberant breasts all the more visible. Modesty’s frontal inexpressive gaze also reminds us of ancient Mesopotamian worshiper's eyes who seem transfixed in their prayers. Completely unaware of her surroundings, the figure appears as a live size doll. While distilling a sense of unaware frailty and vulnerability, an undeniable monumentality attests to her continued presence.
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