L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Paintings by Joachim Wtewael

The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, 1600. (Detail.)

I included three images by the Dutch Mannerist Joachim Wtewael in my post last week on paintings illustrating the mythological tale of Vulcan's gathering of the gods of Olympus to make them witness of the bed-rumpling of his wife and her lover Mars whom he'd just caught in flagrante delicto. Since I wasn't familiar with the painter before my image search, I went back and sought out more of his work. I have to say that I find his work quite fascinating. In general, I really rather enjoy the often pervy Mannerists, but I especially like the lushness and excessive/obsessive detail of this artist's work.

The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, 1600. Before the arrows, he's being lashed to the tree.
Detail of above.
Bacchus, 1638.
The Judgement of Paris, 1615.
Detail of above. So many goats! Oh... and a camel.
Detail of above. A whole lot of naked frolicking in the background, while Apollo drives the sun chariot overhead
The Kitchen Maid, circa 1620-25. A remarkable painting, but I'll spare us all any detail views. Blech.
Self-portrait of the artist, 1601.
Portrait of the artist's wife, Christina Wtewael van Halen (1568-1629), 1601.
Portrait of the artist's daughter, Eva Wtewael (1607-1635), 1628.
Venus and Adonis, circa 1607-10.
Detail of above. As so often with paintings on religious or mythological themes, further story developments
are vignetted into the background. Here, the death of Adonis, the young fellow being attacked by a wild boar;
his faithful hunting dogs, in the midst an unsuccessful counterattack, have thrown themselves onto the pile.
Diana, date unknown.
Lot and his daughters, 1600. (Such a very yucky Bible story....)
Detail of above.
Charity, 1627.
Andromeda, 1611.
Detail of above. I love the gorgeous dragon and the lush scatter of shells and bones on the shore, the elegantly turned wrist of the lolling skeleton.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sleeping Girl With Her Beau, by Pietro Antonio Rotari, circa 1750-55

Another of Rotari's radiant and deliciously sleepy girls. Caressing light, beautifully orchestrated color, erotic languor.

I love the choice of wheat stalk and carnations; they add two more aspects of sensuality to the painting with their very particular touch and smell.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Vulcain surprenant Vénus et Mars dans le lit avant une assemblée des Dieux, by Johann Heiss, 1679

Translation: Vulcan surprising Venus [his wife, of course] and Mars in bed before an an assembly of the gods. Oopsy....

"Cover up, darling, we have company...." Cupid, who's been hiding under the bed - hmm? - is being kicked in the face by his dear, sweet mother.
Vulcan makes his now rather superfluous denunciation. And Neptune's queen, Salacia, seems somewhat less than shocked by the revelation.
Sitting next to her husband Jupiter on their little cloud, Juno is either covering her eyes or perhaps shading them to get a better view. In the
front, Mercury is being distracted by a rather clingy Flora (?), while Faunus, always distinctly interested in any sexual shenanigans, leans on
the balustrade, trying to see around them. In the center of the group, Ceres, Diana, and Minerva are surely gossiping about the awkward turn
of events while, above, the nymph Chloris, Apollo's executive assistant, flies past, scattering flowers, just going about her business like any
other day. And at top right, scythe over his shoulder, Chronos appears to be perusing the scene in greater detail with the use of a... spyglass!
Show-off Apollo wafts in. Chariot, horses, and all. Troublemaker, it seems that he's the one who tipped off Vulcan in the first place.


Johann Heiss (19 June 1640, Memmingen - 1704, Augsburg), German Baroque painter. After training in his birthplace of Memmingen with the father and son painters Hans Conrad Sichelbein and Johann Sichelbein, he went to Stuttgart in 1663 where he was employed in the services of Eberhard III, Duke of Württemberg. From 1677 he lived and worked in Augsburg, where he later died.


While we're at it, here are some more paintings that are based on this rather raunchy, rather peculiar tale, the fine art equivalent of televised entertainment in the style of Jerry Springer/Maury Povich/et al. Beginning with the Renaissance, and over the course of several centuries, there were many artists who chose to illustrate either the story of the initial discovery of Venus' transgression or Vulcan's dramatic "reveal" to their Olympian relatives. The paintings usually portrayed some degree of coitus interruptus; back in the day all you needed to do was to apply a glossy mythological varnish to your work and you could get away with pretty much anything.

Alexandre Charles Guillemot, 1827.
François Boucher, 1754.
Hendrik de Clerck, circa 1615.
Il Padovanino, circa 1631.
Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée, 1768.

Doing image research for this post, I came across several paintings on the same subject by a certain Joachim Wtewael (1566-1638) - never heard of him - a  Dutch Mannerist painter. His versions of the story are pretty intense - and he holds very little back.

Circa 1606-1610.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wayne Hunt and Jerry Jensen, photographs by the Athletic Model Guild, date unknown

The Athletic Model Guild - or AMG - was founded by Bob Mizer in 1945, to produce and distribute photographs of young male "physique" models. At the time, censorship laws in the United States prohibited images of full male nudity. And until those laws were changed in 1968, the industry was forced to be very creative in how they went about showing as much as they could while still managing to avoid any glimpse of the "offending articles".

Here is Wikipedia's entry on the Athletic Model Guild.

(Today's post is in response to Blogger's decision not to implement their own planned censorship of any "adult material", which would have been devastating to countless blogs. Thank you, Blogger; you did the right thing.)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A last blossoming

The last days - the last two decades, specifically - before the French Revolution saw arguably the highest point of refinement in men's dress clothing. During the 1770s and 1780s, the line and embellishment of a man's suit of clothes - the justaucorps (knee-length coat), waistcoat, and breeches (combined, the precursor of the modern three-piece suit) - was at its most beautiful. The elegant proportions of the garments were matched by their sumptuous fabrications and lavish embroidery. But the true marvel of these clothes - like a matador's traje de luces, of which they are a more refined, but not too distant relative - was the cohesiveness of the whole - the remarkably skillful blending of a relatively sober base pattern and an overlay of exquisite, frankly feminine ornamentation - and how well they suited and flattered the male form.

(The same as above. It is said that this fine suit of clothes was worn by the
Swedish Count Axel von Fersen, the beloved of Queen Marie Antoinette.)
(Detail of above.)
(Same as above.)
(Same as above.)
(Detail of above.)
(Same as above.)
(Detail of above.)
(Same as above.)
(Detail of above.)
(Detail of above.)
(Circa 1790, these are certainly the latest of the garments featured here, and are meant for a less formal setting than the other clothes in this post.)