CULTURE & ARTS

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

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">Peter Paul Rubens, "The Three Graces," 1635
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Turkish_Bath" target="_blank">Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, "Le Bain Turc," 1862<
<a href="http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/r/raphael/7drawing/1/25study.html" target="_blank">Raphael, "Study for the Thr
<a href="http://www.wga.hu/html_m/t/tiziano/09/05organ.html" target="_blank">Titian, "Venus and an Organist and a Little Dog,
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Venus_(Bouguereau)" target="_blank">William-Adolphe Bouguereau, "The Birt
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustave_Courbet_-_Young_Bather.jpg" target="_blank">Gustave Courbet, "Young
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Venus" target="_blank">Sandro Botticelli, "The Birth of Venus," 1483-1485
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_020.jpg" target="_blank">Renoir, "Diana the Huntress,"
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Aldegrever" target="_blank">Heinrich Aldegrever, "Eve," 1540</a>
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Knight_Errant_b_John_Everett_Millais_1870.jpg" target="_blank">John Ever
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
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">Artemisia Gentil
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_Gentileschi" target="_blank">Artemisia Gentileschi, "Bathsheba," 17th centur
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustav_Klimt_014.jpg" target="_blank">Gustav Klimt, "Der Beethovenfries," 19
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odalisque_with_Raised_Arms" target="_blank">Henri Matisse, "Odalisque with Raised&nbsp
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egon_Schiele" target="_blank">Egon Schiele, "Sitting Girl," 1917</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Nude_(Souvenir_de_Biskra)" target="_blank">Henri Matisse, "Blue Nude," 1907</a>
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Amedeo_Modigliani_056.jpg" target="_blank">Amedeo Modigliani, "Nudo seduto," 1917
Diego Rivera, "Nude with beads," 1930
Diego Rivera, "Nude with beads," 1930
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefits_Supervisor_Sleeping" target="_blank">Lucian Freud, "Benefits Supervisor Sleep
HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Art History's Most Erotic Artworks
CONVERSATIONS