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Reclining Nude with Book, 1997Oil on canvas 50 3/8 h x 81 w in 128 h x 205.7 w cm
Reclining Nude with Book is a colossal portrait of a reclining nude that exemplifies Botero’s endless fascination with the age-old tradition of the female form. Reclining Nude is a fleshy eroticized figure with large rounded proportions holding a book while lounging on a white blanket in front rolling green hills and tree trunks. This classical depiction of a nude is rendered in Botero’s rotund technique, paying homage to his European predecessors in a distinct Latin American style. Drawing reclining and standing nudes since he began to paint, he’s mastered infusing figure’s volume with themes of sensuality. The exaggerated shape of her body is a site for experimentation, as it allows Botero to apply more color, delicate shading, and a sensuality and profusion of form. The trees and vibrant hills in the background extend beyond the picture plane, suggesting the scene expands beyond the pictorial surface. The painted details of her toes, gold bracelet, glistening earrings and brilliant red hair bow create the ambiance of importance and a woman from high society. This oil on canvas painting is both satirical and graceful, as it enchants and engages the viewer through art historical references of the female form and high societal themes dating back through time.
The whimsical proportions of Reclining Nude with Book are mirrored in Botero’s bronze sculptures of people and animals, such as Woman on Horse and Maternity. Botero’s monumental public sculptures can be found on the streets of New York and Paris, among others. His mastery of voluptuous fleshy figures has become his trademark style and is immediately recognizable as Botero’s creations around the world.