Sunday, October 08, 2006


The Greeks, who had the naked body constantly before them in the exercises of the gymnasium, had far less need of professional models than the moderns; but it is scarcely likely that they could have attained the high level reached by their works without constant study from nature. It was probably in Ancient Greece that models were first used. The story told of Zeuxis by Valerius Maximus, who had five of the most beautiful virgins of the city of Crotone offered him as models for his picture of Helen, proves their occasional use.

During the Renaissance, painters generally made use of their relations and friends as models, of which many examples might be quoted from Venice, Florence, Rome and other places, and the stories of Titian and the duchess of Ferrara and of Botticelli and Simonetta Vespucci, go to show that ladies of exalted rank were sometimes not averse from having their charms immortalized by the painter's brush. Paid models were not unknown, as the story of the unfortunate contadino used by Jacopo Sansovino as model for his statue of the Bacchus will show.

Artists' models as a special class appeared when the establishment of schools for the study of the human figure created a regular demand, and since that time the remuneration offered has ensured a continual supply. In the media era, modeling is also coveted as a way to achieve notoriety or even celebrity status opening the way to other careers, such as acting.