Fleshing out surfaces

Skin in French art and medicine, 1650-1850

By Mechthild Fend

Fleshing out surfaces
Hardcover +
  • Price: £85.00
  • ISBN: 9780719087967
  • Publish Date: Dec 2016
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £85.00
  • ISBN: 9781526104670
  • Publish Date: Jan 2017
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information


    Fleshing out surfaces is the first English-language book on skin and flesh tones in art. It considers flesh and skin in art theory, image making and medical discourse in seventeenth to nineteenth-century France. Describing a gradual shift between the early modern and the modern period, it argues that what artists made when imitating human nakedness was not always the same. Initially understood in terms of the body's substance, of flesh tones and body colour, it became increasingly a matter of skin, skin colour and surfaces. Each chapter is dedicated to a different notion of skin and its colour, from flesh tones via a membrane imbued with nervous energy to hermetic borderline. Looking in particular at works by Fragonard, David, Girodet, Benoist and Ingres, the focus is on portraits, as facial skin is a special arena for testing painterly skills and a site where the body and the image become equally expressive.


    'Fleshing out Surfaces makes for a rich and fascinating read. Fleshing out Surfaces contributes significantly to a growing body of work on the history of representing human skin in art and science by scholars such as Mieneke te Hennepe and Ann-Sophie Lehmann, among others.'
    Marieke M. A. Hendriksen - A Journal of eighteenth-century art and culture, March 2018

    'Fleshing Out Surfaces is indispensable reading for anyone interested in the cultural construction of the body and the theory and practice of portraiture. Fend's focus on the representation of skin, and the connections she makes between medical and anatomical treatises, Enlightenment philosophical considerations of body and self, and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century aesthetic theory provide a productive vocabulary for talking about portraiture, and indeed about visual culture more broadly.'
    Amy Freund, Oxford Art Journal


    1. Introduction
    2. The surface's substance
    3. Nervous canvas
    4. Limite sensitive
    5. Skin colour
    6. Seeing through the skin
    7. Hermetic borderline
    8. Epilogue: segregation


    Mechthild Fend is Reader in History of Art at University College London

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