When I was at art classes we were told that good drawing did not depend on the appearance of the subject but on understanding of structure, proportion &c. Perfectly true, but some models seem to bring out good visions in an artist that others don’t.
When I have a new model coming, male or female, I must admit to a frisson of excitement as to what they will look like. Will they be the perfect body as in Waterhouse:
or Bouguereau: or any of the 19th century painters that I love? Or will they demonstrate to me once again that people just don’t fit into the stereotypes that art has made, making real men and women seem eccentric or even flawed.
The reason for idealisation in art, of course, is that narratives would be compromised -nothing more than group portraits – if the real visual characteristics of people were depicted. We’ve all seen the visual joke of real people’s heads stuck on to famous paintings.