The Last Word in Impossibility

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‘Nude Study’ by William Orpen, 1906

‘…when I am not at portraits I am painting nudes […] and my word – can a nude ever go well – it seems to me the last word in impossibility. I struggle and struggle and the things get worse and worse – I spent the afternoon in the Louvre looking at Nudes and there are none in the least like a woman – Rembrandt’s seated one is of course a marvel – but its not like a woman – Manet’s nude after all is a poor show – as a woman – and Courbet’s one in the Louvre is a shocker – though I remember seeing photographs of some nude woman of his a long time ago which looked wonderful – Forgive me writing all this stuff – I’ll have a drink and forget it’ (William Orpen, letter to William Rothenstein, 22nd November 1921)

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