Goya, Nude Maya

Modigliani, Nude Sitting On A Divan

Botticelli, Birth of Venus

Degas, La Toilette

Ingres, Grande Odalisque

Titian, Danae with Eros

Gaugin, Two Tahitian Women

Raphael, Three Graces

Co.Create

See How The Most Celebrated Female Bodies In Classic Paintings Would Look With A Photoshop Slimdown

Photo editor Lauren Wade has applied the preferred photo-correction software magazines use for slimming down models to famous paintings.

One of the core tactics in Dove's highly influential, if also questionable, Real Beauty campaign has been shining a light on the Photoshopping of our perceptions of female beauty. The overuse of the reality-impairing photo-editing software has been derided by Dove and many others for creating unrealistic cosmetic expectations of today's women by not presenting them authentically. One photo editor has done some further landscaping in this uncanny valley, applying modern airbrushed aesthetics to the women of yesterday--specifically those portrayed in history's most famous art.

Lauren Wade of lifestyle blog Take Part has started taking the same Photoshop tactics that make models look like even more extreme specimens and using them on famous paintings from the Renaissance and Impressionist eras. While the painters of these periods appreciated beauty as we do, their subjects were actual women of varying shapes and would generally not, as Wade notes on the Take Part site, fit into a size zero. But with the slimming software in place and the bodies newly unblemished, Botticelli's babes are now way more bodacious.

“We’ve taken a digital liquefy brush to the painstakingly layered oils of some of the most celebrated paintings of the female form, nipping and tucking at will," Wade writes on Take Part. "There may be something sacrilegious in that, but the same could be said for our contemporary ideas of beauty.”

Seeing the "improved" figures in these paintings makes the imbalance in ideals crystal clear. Perhaps if the artists behind the originals saw what today's women aspire to be instead, they would have been less inclined to immortalize that.

Have a look at more images in the slides above.

Add New Comment

20 Comments

  • Nicholas Maher

    Your retoucher ("photoshoper to use the language of the uninformed) is just not very good. They look awful because they not well done.

  • Allan Ranusch

    Maybe I have it wrong myself, but I think some commentators are missing the point. I suspect the author is doing this to satirize the ridiculous and anorexic ideals of feminine beauty hyped by the media and the fashion industry. The fact that the original images are so much for attractive than the altered ones is, I believe, the author's point.

  • I completely agree with you Allan! As a Personal Stylist who works primarily with women, I can say from daily experience that many clients are initially very unhappy with their size, and unnecessarily so. What helps to overcome this deeply ingrained fixation is they have to be shown how to select clothing that flatters their bodies, once that's done, they're willing to be amazed and usually forget about the ridiculous fashion industry standards.

    Whatever can be done to help women get the point and love themselves more is a good thing IMHO.

  • Deborah Beaudoin-Zaki

    This is destroying classical art and insulting the artists and subjects. In the USA most women are a size 14. They are not super slim. Are you also trying to put down the bodies of average females? Obsession with thin bodies create many food disorders in young females in our society. I find this project to be anything but artistic or sophisticated.

  • Welsey Shaw

    Um, dummy, you don't get the point of the article, do you?

    Read some Mark Twain or Jonathan Swift before you show the world how culturally stupid you are.

  • Patricia Sener

    Dear mr berkowitz, by stating that the photshopped version of " Botticelli's babes are now way more bodacious", you seem to buying into the hype that women who starve themselves to look like adolescent boys and get fake boobs are the zenith of beauty. Unlike the author, many of us have not drunk the cool-aid. I prefer to see ample, womanly curves--that is my definition of bodacious.

  • Jacob Jones

    OK, what's worse?.. Photo-shopping pics to fool the masses, or using a phrase like "drink the Kool-aid?"..

    And before you answer, try and remember, over 900 people lost their lives "drinking the Kool-aid," including a US congressman, who was shot to death along with 13 other people, trying to leave Ghana..

    I'm sorry, but I'm actually old enough to cringe every time I hear someone use that awful phrase..

  • Noel Davila Guillory

    Very interesting! I photoshop for a living and have mixed feelings about the hype around retouched images lately. Photoshop itself is a neutral thing. It's the feelings and ideas and emotional baggage tied to the images it creates that are causing all the uproar. When we understand the process that creates the images of beauty we're constantly bombarded with, I think we can stop taking these images so personally. Women on magazine covers are half animated. They're interesting art. They have very little to do with you. You're a person. They only exist as an image like these paintings. The real women they represent are as different from the end result as the real women represented by these paintings.

  • Nicholas Maher

    So you photoshop for a living. Very interesting. What do you do exactly when you photoshop? Is there another term that describes what you do? I'd love to know.

  • Jonty Howe

    Your views seem naiive, emotions tied to these images are because they are presented as reality and not art. If you consistently present the idea of beauty as an unattainable unreality people will perceive themselves to have an eternal and wholly certain shortfall.

  • Anna Sen

    Outrageous. This just about sums up our screwed up world. Surely the human race would have died out by now if "imperfect" people weren't loved and chosen as reproductive partners? Also notice how as waists and hips and backs become impossibly thin, breasts stay the same size or get bigger? This generally doesn't happen!!! When a woman loses a lot of weight, she usually loses fat from her breats, so this out of proportion look can usually be only achieved by using implants. The line at the end is very interesting: "Perhaps if the artists behind the originals saw what today's women aspire to be instead, they would have been less inclined to immortalize that."

  • Esther Ino

    Gee by the end of looking at this gallery I found myself really disgusted. Does the modern world really want all women to look like little girls with fake boobs? Very scary. A very effective gallery.

  • I love it! Maybe there really isn't an obesity problem in the U.S. today, we're just returning to our roots. The artist tends to use the contemporary vision of beauty, so I believe you are spot on with how these paintings would look if today's sense of beauty had been the accepted one of the period.

  • Kelleen Stine-Cheyne

    I'm confused by this. Are you saying that the artist would have used different models if he had been painting today? Or is your point more that we need to continue to reflect on what our current society idealizes as beautiful?

    When I view the changed figures, I see them an not looking as healthy, beautiful, or real as the original.