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These Are the 8 Prettiest Boys In Art History
Guy candy throughout the ages… Michelangelo's David is just one of them
Art Girls Jungle 28 Jan 2020

You may think guy candy is a 21st century phenomenon, but you, my dear reader, would be wrong. In fact, for centuries, artists have been teasing us with decidedly yummy hunks, ensuring that the hottest guys in their day, would still be appreciated well into the future. And, lucky for you, we’ve picked our favourite historical art hunks to you to drool over while you think about getting back to that annoying client…


David in David, Michelangelo, 1501-1504

Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? This piece of marble perfection has stunned – and at times outraged – viewers for centuries. Tense, and ready for combat, David is our favourite work of art to visit whenever we’re in Florence, and we’re sure we don’t have to explain why…


Paul Rosano in Paul Rosano Reclining, Sylvia Sleigh, 1970s

Sylvia Sleigh made painting male nudes her signature, and she was pretty damn good at it, having a number of male muses throughout her career. Fun fact, she even had one image of Paul Rosano ordered to be taken down because of the detail in the nude painting. When interviewed about it in the New York Times, Sleigh argued that the judge probably would not have objected if the painting depicted a female nude. (And we agree). We particularly love this portrait because of Rosano’s flamboyant flair, I mean, who else could pull off orange in such a way?


Gustave Courbet in The Desperate Man, Gustave Courbet, 1843

This self-portrait is just as though Gustave Courbet were looking at his own reflection in the mirror. With his dreamy brown eyes and long hair, we don’t really need to give much explanation as to why he’s topping our list. The fact that Courbet’s a painter himself, just makes him that much dreamier…


Bacchus in Bacchus And Ariadne, Titian, 1520-1523

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Capturing love at first sight. See Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne' in Room 6. Bacchus, god of wine, emerges with his followers from the landscape to the right. Falling in love with Ariadne on sight, he leaps from his chariot, drawn by two cheetahs, towards her. Ariadne had been abandoned on the Greek island of Naxos by Theseus, whose ship is shown in the distance. The picture shows her initial fear of Bacchus, but he raised her to heaven and turned her into a constellation, represented by the stars above her head. The programme for the series was probably devised by a humanist scholar in the service of Alfonso d'Este. The subject of 'Bacchus and Ariadne' is derived from the classical authors Ovid and Catullus. The painting is one of a famous series by Bellini, Titian and the Ferrarese artist Dosso Dossi, commissioned for the Camerino d'Alabastro, (Alabaster Room) in the Ducal Palace, Ferrara, by Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, who in around 1510 tried to include Michelangelo and Raphael among the contributors. Titian's painting was in fact a substitute for one with a similar subject which the Duke had commissioned from Raphael. Bellini's 'Feast of the Gods' for this room is dated 1514, and the three works by Titian were painted 1518-25. Detail from Titian, 'Bacchus and Ariadne', 1520-3 © The National Gallery, London. #nationalgallery #london #titian #bacchusandariadne #painting #artwork #oilpainting #art #arthistory #fineart #artmuseum #museum #artgallery #gallery #nationalgallerylondon #trafalgarsquare

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We all love a guy who’s in touch with his feelings, and Bacchus falling head over heels for Ariadne is making our hearts melt. In this painting the god of wine leaps towards Ariadne, who he took to heaven and turned into stars. (Art boys take note of how to woo your art girl)


Mystery Man in Water, Alireza Shojaian, 2018

We’re not sure who this mystery man is, but if anyone can help a girl out, we’re listening… Getting in touch with his softer side, this art hunk looks like a Greek God amongst the foliage. 10/10 from us!


George Jules Taylor in Family Jules: NNN (No Naked Niggahs), Barkley L. Hendricks, 1974

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#WorkoftheWeek, painted by American artist Barkley L. Hendricks in 1974, is 'Family Jules: NNN (No Naked Niggahs)'. The portrait depicts Hendricks' good friend George Jules Taylor. While in this work we are presented with Jules’s taut, naked body, it's his charisma that draws us in. With his tilted head, the light reflecting from his glasses and the carefully angled pipe, his nonchalant coolness seems to emanate from somewhere deep inside, making his nudity seem almost unremarkable. It's clear from this portrait that there's a psychological connection between artist and sitter, and that Jules allows Hendricks, and the viewer, to approach. He is at once dramatically sensual – heightened by the interplay of colour, pattern and texture – and elegantly regal, coolly balanced across the heavy wooden seat. The unique composition underscores Jules' quiet self-confidence and flamboyant personality. In 1973 curator David H. Katzive wrote: ‘If three different people were asked how they responded to the portraits of Barkley Hendricks, it would be entirely possible to have one person reply that they were overpowering, sensual and physically exciting; for another person to reply that they were cool, remote and photographic; and for a third person to reply that they exemplify Black dignity, pride and self-affirmation.’

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Who doesn’t love a guy with a bit of personality? Extra points if he’s got a hot bod too, something that George Jules Taylor has both of in this painting. Both painting and sitter are cool and sensual, we approve.


Egon Schiele in Self Portrait With Striped Shirt, Egon Schiele, 1910

I mean, just look at those eyes. Egon Schiele has something of a mischievous vibe in this painting, which endears us to him even more… 


Bacchus in Triumph Of Bacchus, Michaelina Wautier, 1650-1656

Making a double appearance in our list (does that make Bacchus the prettiest God in art history?!), Bacchus is represented here by female artist Michaelina Wautier, who is believed to be the first female artist to depict a male nude. In fact, history previously mistook her for a male artist. But, instead of being outraged over this situation, let us for a moment appreciate Wautier’s talent, as well as the godlike body of Bacchus! 


Text Lizzy Vartanian

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