A book Man and Woman by Hevlok Ellis was published in 1894 in Leipzig. Between 1898 and 1902 thirteen editions of a book Beauty of Womans Body by doctor Straz (Germany) were printed. This book was so popular, that by 1920 the edition number twenty five was published (each new rearranged end supplemented by the author). In 1903 in Paris Vingola starts up a series Academic Etudes, which contains an enormous amount of photos of nude women. The academic thought has newly begun, like in the Renaissance times, to search the regularities in the building of a womans body that determine its beauty. It was especially actively exercised in Germany. Like doctor Straz claims, it concerned not only European women, but also the women of the whole world.
If a woman is really attractive, it is admitted by all men. But what about the race beauty then? In China, India, African and South American countries the ideas of a womans beauty substantially differ. Having traveled practically all over the world and compared the data, theyve managed to gather, observant and hard-working German scientists have concluded, that only women, that belong to European race (Mediterranean type), can possess an ideal beauty, and the reason is that they stand on a higher level of development. Some women, belonging to black and yellow races, also have very beautiful (attractive) arms, legs, breasts and faces, but in general they are inferior to white women in beauty.
By the beginning of XX century an European has had practically no idea about a live womans body. Only face and hands and, in exceptional cases, arms and shoulders were visible at all. He could see only one or several naked women in his lifetime, and usually under such circumstances, that make a sober judgment impossible. Love makes one blind.
The European could have produced an independent view concerning womans face and hands. But everything he knew about other parts of her body was learned from its artistic reproduction in painting or photography. Observation of real women was completely secondary for this knowledge. Thats why the European ideal of beauty of that time is based on the impression made by art.
They would unconsciously denounce nudity in the everyday life, but its depiction was considered absolutely permitted. Not knowing the nature, they would apply the standard image, taken from artworks, to the beauty of womans body, not taking into consideration the fact, that art has its own specific principles. The proportions of sculpture depend on the place where it is to be placed. The proportions of a figure on a painting depend on the artists emotional perception of depicted subject.
Boticcellis Venus can serve as an example of deliberate distortion in order to create a general impression. A perception of the painting by Rosetti: - The waves are splashing quietly, carrying a shell with the delightful goddess of love, shamefully covering breast and bosom of hers. Endless mass of the golden hair flatters in the air And the viewer feels himself to be an occasional witness of a sacred mystery, written by Nature in the Great Book of wonders. It is really a wonderful image of Venus.
But if one looks at the picture closely, we will not see any beauty in a long narrow neck, strongly lowered shoulders, narrow hollow chest and an extra-long left hand- this image has nothing in common with the canonic beauty.
It was common earlier to talk about beauty using the characteristics like smooth and gradual lines, supple forms, graceful building and accurate proportions. When the scientists (especially German ones) have approached a woman beauty with a measuring ruler, some of them were verified. The so-called canon was produced figures, build according to certain rules with the use of the basic model, named module.
There were certainly specific canons already in ancient Egypt, because plenty of people have been trying hard searching the regularities of human body building. Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Durer have done a lot for this research. But at the end of XIX and in the beginning of XX century these canons became especially popular. Doctor Straz preferred Frishas canon in his scholarly studies, according to which the length of the spinal cord has served as a module. Using this criterion he has been measuring womens beauty during his numerous trips all over the world. Dr. Strazs observations were published in a book Race Womens Beauty, which has appeared in print in Russian in 1904. Some abstracts:
The Chinese have concluded that slim, graceful bodies are very beautiful. But in reality its vice-versa. Most of the Chinese prefer plumpness. Rich, plump and beautiful are the same word in Chinese. When ones rich, he eats a lot and he is proud of his plump wife and daughters, that eat a lot too and therefore gain weight. The women are considered beautiful only when they become rich and plump. A slim girl is poor, and therefore ugly.