We tend to think of it as a modern phenomenon, but while it's true that we see more air-brushed images than ever before, the beauty myth is not an entirely new concept.

Since the renaissance painters have been employed to present the wealthy and important as looking conventionally prettier than they really are.

But as Aleah Chapin, last week's winner of the BP Portrait Award proved with her painting Auntie, sometimes the job of the artist is to find beauty in unusual places.

topless grandmother Aleah Chapin's Auntie


Art can and should serve as a reminder that beauty exists in more forms than the advertising world would have us believe.

Whether it's aging or overweight sitters or muses caught in odd acts or moments, artists have always sought to challenge our idea of human beauty.

Here's a collection of our favourite artworks that reject the beauty myth conventions.

What do you think?

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  • Leigh Under The Skylight, by Lucian Freud (1994)

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  • Autoportrait (1928), by Claude Cahun

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  • Auntie (2012), by Aleah Chapin

  • Beautiful And Ugly (1634), by Adriaen van de Venne

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  • Caryatid (20th century), by Amedeo Modigliani

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  • The Death of Dido, by Peter Paul Rubens

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  • Glenda Jackson (2010), by Edward Sutcliffe

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  • A Grotesque Old Woman, possibly Princess Margaret of Tyrol (16th century), by Quentin Matsys

  • Hybrid, by Jenny Saville

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  • Trace, by Jenny Saville

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  • Pandora (1878), by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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  • Reclining Nude, by Lucian Freud

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  • Sleeping by the Lion Carpet (also known as Sue Tilley) (1996), by Lucian Freud

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  • Woman Ironing (1904), by Pablo Picasso

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