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Ways of Seeing Themes

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The nude is a category of European oil painting. Typically, a woman or women regularly appear as subject. Adam and Eve discover they are naked in Genesis when they disobey God by eating forbidden fruit that makes them aware of nakedness. Their disobedience is blamed on Eve and she becomes subservient to Adam. Initially, they feel shame from being naked and cover themselves from view with fig leaves. Later, the artistic tradition transforms the female shame to display of her naked body to the view of spectators. Tintoretto's painting includes spectators looking at a naked female subject taking a bath. The naked Susannah becomes a spectator of herself by looking at her own image in a mirror. Presumably, the mirror symbolizes that a woman is vain. However, both the artist and spectators enjoy looking at naked women. The mirror lessens their...

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