One weakness of the pose from the engineering point of view is that by definition it creates an uneven distribution of weight, placing the statue in danger of collapse. Expect to see the weight-bearing leg on classical examples propped up with strategically-placed carvings of rocks, columns, or small tree trunks (this can be seen on Michelangelo's statue of David). Modern examples may be made of different materials or supported by internal reinforcement, making this addition unnecessary.
Contrapposto may be the oldest of the Stock Poses; it was identified in Ancient Greece (making it Older Than Feudalism), where it was used in many classical statues, and rediscovered in The Renaissance, when it was used in both sculpture and painting. Hence, it often shows up in parodies of and call-outs to classic works, as well as still being used in art to this day. It's more subtle than other poses, but historically very important, as its development marks the point when Greek sculptors discovered that they could convey movement and complex emotion in a statue.
This pose is generally more subtle than the Boobs-and-Butt Pose, and in any case the figure is usually intended to be viewed primarily from the front rather than the rear, but either pose could evolve into the other easily enough when the person starts moving. It can be combined with the Head-and-Hip Pose, but putting the two together emphasizes both the bust and the hips, and may look like someone trying to be sexy to the point of parody and beyond. It is sometimes used as a Modeling Pose, either to show off an elegant skirt or well-cut pair of pants, or just to associate the clothes with someone who looks relaxed but dynamic, and thus cool. A Sexy Walk uses much of the same effect, but more blatantly and in motion rather than as a fixed pose; in fact, the walk may end with this pose, as when a model at a Fashion Show, on reaching the end of the catwalk,◊ pauses, juts her hip, and glances sideways at the audience.
Works Featuring the Contrapposto Pose:
- This cartoon demonstrates the way that the classical Greek development of contrapposto revolutionized ancient art.
- The Apollo Belvedere is sometimes called the greatest statue of classical antiquity.
- Botticellis The Birth of Venus demonstrates a very relaxed version of the pose. Bouguereaus treatment of the same subject is similarly relaxed.
- Michelangelo's David uses the pose to intensely dynamic effect.
- Although Alphonse Mucha tended more to depict his dreamy female subjects Leaning on the Furniture, he could also employ contrapposto, as for example with his Eveil du Matin.
- Bellini's Perseus with the Head of Medusa is a violent use of the trope.
- Leonardo da Vinci used this pose in his Leda and the Swan◊ (now lost and known only from copies).
- The Venus de Milo is dynamic, sexy, and has some complex drapes over the bent leg. And the Aphrodite of Menophantos is yet another Love Goddess in the pose.
- The woman in William-Adolphe Bouguereaus The Return of Spring stands in this pose, favoring her left leg and bending her torso to the left.
- Millie the Model: A lot of covers seem to show Millie or other models in this pose, suggesting action while making them look appropriately elegant. Likewise, Katy Keene is sometimes depicted shifting into contrapposto.
- Wonder Woman 600: Phill Jimez's two page spread depicts Etta with all her weight on her right leg with her left leg slightly forward and to the side.
- Frozen (2013): When Queen Elsa is feeling at her most assertive and confident, she often falls into some version of this pose (while her sister Anna tends to a more flat-footed stance).
- Emma.: In the movie, Emma's watercolour portrait of Harriet is a whole-length in the contrapposto pose. Harriet is slightly turned to one side, standing with one arm relaxed while she's lifting her other arm above her head and is holding a feather. Emma takes Harriet's likeness for Mr Elton's benefit so that he can admire Harriet's beauty. In the novel, Harriet was sitting down in the portrait.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Contrapposto is basically Jessica Rabbit's default stance◊. Anyone cosplaying her tends to spend a lot of time pulling this pose, if only because a real human being needs all the help they can get to approximate Jessica's waist/hip ratio.
- Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: Natalie Perkins inserts herself into the game group, and is the character who leads them through most of the plot. The cover of the third book in the series reflects this assertiveness by putting her in contrapposto, despite the fact that she is not the one with armor or weapons.
- Ménage à 3: The strips themselves don't feature especially frequent use of contrapposto, but the print collection cover designs and assorted posters, postcards, and figurines associated with the comic often employ it. They are mostly full-length portrait-style images of cast members, and artist Gisèle Lagacé clearly understands the effectiveness of the pose.
- Sandra on the Rocks: This being a comic about fashion models, several of the characters can be identified as using this pose at different times. Notably, Zoé, an experienced model and an assertive, confident character, is sometimes depicted standing contrapposto automatically.