Dress, Nudity and Calvinist Culture in Sixteenth-Century France
This chapter will examine the ideas of French Calvinists about nudity and natural beauty during the latter decades of the sixteenth century. It will first assess the reaction of Jean de Lery to the natural beauty of the naked natives of Brazil. Lery's comments on the Tupinamba people will be placed in the context of efforts which were being made by his clergy colleagues in the Reformed church to enforce strict standards of modest clothing, particularly among women. Lery's account of the state of native peoples in the New World will also be compared with the modest aesthetic in dress advised in the Old World by the Reformed moralist, Lambert Daneau. The distinction which Daneau drew between nudity and natural beauty provided the basis for his appeal to French Calvinists to dress in a manner appropriate for true Christians.