Two Male Nudes
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Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem
Dutch, about 1590
Grisaille in oil on paper

10 11/16 x 7 9/16 in.

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In this dark, erotic scene, it was the extended and twisted poses of the two male nudes that interested Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, not their facial expressions. The larger man turns his head away from the viewer, grasping the young boy's foot in his left hand, his right arm sensually wrapped around the boy's body. The boy sits splay-legged, leaning back against the man's arm with his face hidden in the forceful embrace of the man.

Van Haarlem used modulated tones to suggest texture as revealed by gradations of light. Gleaming highlights reflect off the smooth, muscular bodies, showing off the dimpled texture of their flesh. Delicate white, almost frothy strokes form the leafy trees in the background.