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ESSAYS

Barely Ottoman

How nudity slipped into the fine arts in fin-de-sicle 
Istanbul amid a tumult of societal changes

BY HG MASTERS

ÖZLEM ŞIMŞEKReclining Woman (After Halil Paşa), 2012, still from video: 1 min 27 sec. Courtesy the artist and Pera Museum, Istanbul.

The most passé of painterly subjects is undoubtedly the nude. Feminist critics and art historians have rightly stripped down the sexist optics at work in the "disinterested" appreciation of the unclothed (usually female) form, which by the 19th century had become a prurient genre of painting in itself…

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