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Representations of gods and goddesses in Babylonian and Ancient Egyptian art are the precursors of the works of Western antiquity.Other significant non-Western traditions of depicting nudes come from India, and Japan, but the nude does not form an important aspect of Chinese art.Christian attitudes cast doubt on the value of the human body, and the Christian emphasis on chastity and celibacy further discouraged depictions of nakedness, even in the few surviving Early Medieval survivals of secular art.Completely unclothed figures are rare in medieval art, the notable exceptions being Adam and Eve and the damned in Last Judgement scenes, and the ideal forms of Greco-Roman nudes are completely lost, transformed into symbols of shame and sin, weakness and defenselessness.Kenneth Clark considered idealization the hallmark of true nudes, as opposed to more descriptive and less artful figures that he considered merely naked.His emphasis on idealization points up an essential issue: seductive and appealing as nudes in art may be, they are meant to stir the mind as well as the passions.The nude figure drawing or figure study of a live model rapidly became an important part of artistic practice and training, and remained so until the 20th century.In Baroque art, the continuing fascination with classical antiquity influenced artists to renew their approach to the nude, but with more naturalistic, less idealized depictions, perhaps more frequently working from live models.

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By the 5th century BCE, Greek sculptors' mastery of anatomy resulted in greater naturalness and more varied poses.In the mid-fourth century BC, the sculptor Praxiteles made a nude Aphrodite, called the Knidian, which established a new tradition for the female nude, having idealized proportions based on mathematical ratios as were the nude male statues.The nudes of Greco-Roman art are conceptually perfected ideal persons, each one a vision of health, youth, geometric clarity, and organic equilibrium.Temple sculptures and cave paintings, some very explicit, are part of the Hindu tradition of the value of sexuality, and as in many warm climates partial or complete nudity was common in everyday life.Japan had a tradition of mixed communal bathing that existed until recently, and was often portrayed in woodcut prints.

By the 5th century BCE, Greek sculptors' mastery of anatomy resulted in greater naturalness and more varied poses.

In the mid-fourth century BC, the sculptor Praxiteles made a nude Aphrodite, called the Knidian, which established a new tradition for the female nude, having idealized proportions based on mathematical ratios as were the nude male statues.

The nudes of Greco-Roman art are conceptually perfected ideal persons, each one a vision of health, youth, geometric clarity, and organic equilibrium.

Temple sculptures and cave paintings, some very explicit, are part of the Hindu tradition of the value of sexuality, and as in many warm climates partial or complete nudity was common in everyday life.

Japan had a tradition of mixed communal bathing that existed until recently, and was often portrayed in woodcut prints.

Both genders are represented; the male in the form of heroes such as Hercules and Samson, and female in the form of Venus and the Three Graces.