Notes from the Catalogue: Paul Cadmus’s Nantucket Man

Male Nude, NM 276, color crayon, 1996. Estimate $18,000 to $22,000.

Among the highlights of Swann’s June 13 auction of American Art is a run of works by Paul Cadmus, created in his early 90s and representing the culmination of his career as a master draftsman of the human form—specifically males. 

Male Nude, NM 165, color crayon drawing, 1981. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

Cadmus’s opinion was not that men were more beautiful than women, but that men were more vain and knew how to pose better for longer. The Male Nude, NM series was of his longtime lover, Jon Anderson, 32 years his junior, whom he met in Nantucket in 1965—the “NM” notation stands for “Nantucket Man.” Cadmus and Anderson’s collaboration explored all aspects of the male nude, and the two remained lovers until Cadmus’s death just days before his 95th birthday. 

Male Nude, NM 199, color crayon drawing, 1986. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

“From 1965 onward, Paul Cadmus, in collaboration with Jon Anderson, explored all aspects of the male nude, combining a reserved but blissful eroticism with formal explorations of torsion and foreshortening in the context of innovative, often witty composition,” observed Justin Spring in his book Paul Cadmus: The Male Nude. “One of the most delightful aspects of the Anderson drawings is their variety. Cadmus was continually exploring and innovating even as he strove for formal perfection through his repeated drawings of the same model.”