21 Times Western Art History Bowed Down To The Beauty Of The Belly

Today we're honoring the muses of art history whose bellies cannot and will not be contained.

Warning: This post contains nudity and may not be appropriate for work environments.

Unknown artist, "Venus of Willendorf," 28,000 B.C.E
Unknown artist, "Venus of Willendorf," 28,000 B.C.E
Wiki Commons

Once upon a time, approximately 30,000 years ago, in a place now called Willendorf -- located in Austria -- a bold paleolithic artist carved a woman's figure out of oolitic limestone. And bae had a beautiful belly. Now known as "Venus of Willendorf," this iconic artistic depiction of the female form paved the way for countless more.

Throughout the history of Western artwork, the female nude has remained a constant source of inspiration for artists, whether dead white dudes or contemporary feminist provocateurs. We of the Huffington Post Culture team have, forgive the pun, a soft spot for the many beautiful bellies that pop up along the way.

As evidenced by the original Venus figurines, the belly has long been a symbol of fertility, abundance, and even pleasure. Whether giving birth or enjoying the delicious delicacies the world has to offer, women and their bodies are often linked to the most profound and sensual pleasures of life.

Today we're honoring the muses of art history whose bellies cannot and will not be contained. From Rubenesque bombshells to Lucian Freud's fleshy inspirations, the following art historical women are body-positive icons.

<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Graces_(Rubens)" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Peter Paul Rubens, &#x22;The Three Graces,&#x22; 1635" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Graces_(Rubens)" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="0">Peter Paul Rubens, "The Three Graces," 1635</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Turkish_Bath" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, &#x22;Le Bain Turc,&#x22; 1862" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Turkish_Bath" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="1">Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, "Le Bain Turc," 1862</a>
<a href="http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/r/raphael/7drawing/1/25study.html" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Raphael, &#x22;Study for the Three Graces,&#x22; 1518" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/r/raphael/7drawing/1/25study.html" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="2">Raphael, "Study for the Three Graces," 1518</a>
<a href="http://www.wga.hu/html_m/t/tiziano/09/05organ.html" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Titian, &#x22;Venus and an Organist and a Little Dog,&#x22; 1550" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="http://www.wga.hu/html_m/t/tiziano/09/05organ.html" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="3">Titian, "Venus and an Organist and a Little Dog," 1550</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Venus_(Bouguereau)" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="William-Adolphe Bouguereau, &#x22;The Birth of Venus,&#x22; 1879" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Venus_(Bouguereau)" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="4">William-Adolphe Bouguereau, "The Birth of Venus," 1879</a>
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustave_Courbet_-_Young_Bather.jpg" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Gustave Courbet, &#x22;Young Bather,&#x22; 1866" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustave_Courbet_-_Young_Bather.jpg" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="5">Gustave Courbet, "Young Bather," 1866</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Venus" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Sandro Botticelli, &#x22;The Birth of Venus,&#x22; 1483-1485" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Venus" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="6">Sandro Botticelli, "The Birth of Venus," 1483-1485</a>
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_020.jpg" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Renoir, &#x22;Diana the Huntress,&#x22; 1867" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_020.jpg" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="7">Renoir, "Diana the Huntress," 1867</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Aldegrever" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Heinrich Aldegrever, &#x22;Eve,&#x22; 1540" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Aldegrever" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="8">Heinrich Aldegrever, "Eve," 1540</a>
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Knight_Errant_b_John_Everett_Millais_1870.jpg" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="John Everett Millais, &#x22;The Knight Errant,&#x22; 1870" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Knight_Errant_b_John_Everett_Millais_1870.jpg" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="9">John Everett Millais, "The Knight Errant," 1870</a>
Jacques Blanchard, "Venus and the Three Graces Surprised by a Mortal, or Cimon and Iphigenia," 1631-1633
Jacques Blanchard, "Venus and the Three Graces Surprised by a Mortal, or Cimon and Iphigenia," 1631-1633
Getty Images
Edvard Munch, "Female Nude; The Beast," 1902
Edvard Munch, "Female Nude; The Beast," 1902
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Artemisia_Gentileschi_-_Sleeping_Venus.JPG" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Artemisia Gentileschi, &#x22;Sleeping Venus,&#x22; 1625-30" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Artemisia_Gentileschi_-_Sleeping_Venus.JPG" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="11">Artemisia Gentileschi, "Sleeping Venus," 1625-30</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_Gentileschi" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Artemisia Gentileschi, &#x22;Bathsheba,&#x22; 17th century" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_Gentileschi" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="12">Artemisia Gentileschi, "Bathsheba," 17th century</a>
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustav_Klimt_014.jpg" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Gustav Klimt, &#x22;Der Beethovenfries,&#x22; 1902" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustav_Klimt_014.jpg" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="13">Gustav Klimt, "Der Beethovenfries," 1902</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odalisque_with_Raised_Arms" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Henri Matisse, &#x22;Odalisque with Raised Arms, (of Henriette Darricarri&#xE8;re),&#x22; 1923" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odalisque_with_Raised_Arms" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="14">Henri Matisse, "Odalisque with Raised Arms, (of Henriette Darricarrière)," 1923</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egon_Schiele" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Egon Schiele, &#x22;Sitting Girl,&#x22; 1917" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egon_Schiele" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="15">Egon Schiele, "Sitting Girl," 1917</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Nude_(Souvenir_de_Biskra)" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Henri Matisse, &#x22;Blue Nude,&#x22; 1907" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Nude_(Souvenir_de_Biskra)" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="16">Henri Matisse, "Blue Nude," 1907</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Amedeo_Modigliani_056.jpg" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Amedeo Modigliani, &#x22;Nudo seduto,&#x22; 1917" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Amedeo_Modigliani_056.jpg" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="17">Amedeo Modigliani, "Nudo seduto," 1917</a>
Diego Rivera, "Nude with beads," 1930
Diego Rivera, "Nude with beads," 1930
LEON NEAL via Getty Images
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefits_Supervisor_Sleeping" target="_blank" role="link" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Lucian Freud, &#x22;Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,&#x22; 1995" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="56df2f6be4b0ffe6f8eb2981" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefits_Supervisor_Sleeping" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="18">Lucian Freud, "Benefits Supervisor Sleeping," 1995</a>

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