Monday, 29 October 2012

Mini-post: Strange Women Lying in Ponds...

Last time we looked at François Boucher, we learned he had a thing for mythological paintings.  Here is a rather milder scene, depicting the birth of Venus.  

The story goes that Venus was born of sea foam.  Here she seems to be vomited forth by a giant fish.  Along with some tastefully placed blankets.

Bleeeeh.  Knew I shouldn’t have had that second bowl of worms.

The thing that caught my eye, though, was the pair of baby-angels that are hanging out to witness her birth.  One of them is mauling a dove, with a disgusted expression.  

Ugh—sea foam skank alert!

The other carries a torch and looks like he is trying to drive her out, exorcist-style.

Begone, foul sea-vomit wench!

 And thus goes the birth of the goddess of love and prostitutes.

Monday, 22 October 2012

It's Tough to Be the Queen - Part 5

First, a bit of housekeeping: I’ll only have sporadic internet access for the next several weeks.  For all ten of my loyal readers, there will still be some nuggets of art snarkiness, but overall updates and general blogosphere activeness will be down.  Also, just to put it out there, you guys are awesome and thanks for reading!

Ok.  Back to our regularly scheduled “Fun and Awkwardness with the Medici Cycle.”  Last time she got married to her dream king by proxy of her uncle.  I guess it’s finally time that little Marie finally meet this new husband of hers!  

Well, not quite yet.  She arrives in Marseilles, but it’s France that runs up to greet her in his (its?) fabulous blue cape.  Everyone is super excited to finally have her in the same country as her purported spouse.  

Well, except for the man who is grabbing her arm as if to beg, “Please!  Don’t go!”  Maybe he’s an ex-lover.  Or maybe he’s just a supporter trying to save her from entering this barbarian land.

One of the happier attendees is this angel, who is so excited that just one horn is not enough to express his emotions.

Either that, or the other angel that was signed up for Welcome Duty called in sick.

Back to people who don’t look all that thrilled to be there, there’s this guy.

He looks like an angry pirate about to punch someone.  Although he might just be struggling in a tug-of-war with one of the sea monsters present.

So first off, there’s the old man of the sea, together with a boy who looks like he’s about to have an apoplexy while playing a rousing ditty on the conch shell.  They are accompanied by a couple of rampaging sea stallions, which are doubtless causing problems for a boat that is trying to dock smoothly. 

Besides these guys, there are also a few plump, sexy naked ladies helping out and GOOD GOD LOOK AT THOSE TENTACLES.  

I’ve heard that women’s thighs can have crushing properties, but she could literally wrap her “legs” around you and wring the final, whimpering breaths from your body.

Theoretically this cast of sea monsters is attempting to “procure her safe arrival” and “help escort the queen to her new home,” but the painting suggests otherwise.  

The captain knows that when your entry to port is greeted by nude Man-Kraken splashing around your boat, it is time to bring out the cannons.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Rocks On The Brain

This edition, we look at a work by another 16th century Flemish painter, Jan Sanders van Hemessen.

The art book I first found this in called it “Removing Rocks from the Head.”  Although subsequent Google searches reveal it to be called either “The Stonecutter” or “The Surgeon,” I think that the first version of the title is the best.  Because that is what it is showing.

Apparently there was a belief that epilepsy was caused by rocks lodged in the brain, which had to be surgically removed.  So here we have a guy with minimal teeth and possibly poor eyesight performing brain surgery on a conscious patient with a knife at a fair.  A middle-aged lady holds the victi—I mean, patient’s head still, because that’s all you need for a procedure where you have a man getting his skull delicately split open with an animal horn.  Meanwhile, the old man on the right does calisthenics to pass the time.  Maybe he was the anesthesiologist, until he remembered that those didn’t exist yet.

If you’re interested, apparently there are a large number of items with this image on Zazzle.  Now you can drink your coffee from a mug depicting the height of rock-based neurosurgical treatment!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Jesus and the Prisoners of Hadeskaban

Having permanently scarred some eyes last week, I thought this time we’d stick to good old-fashioned drug-trip-inspired gore with a touch of irreverence.  I present to you the “Descent into Limbo” or “Harrowing of Hell,” by Pieter Huys, whose work with squirrel bagpipes and sky jousting we've looked at previously.

So Jesus comes down to free all the souls, wearing his superman cape and underwear.  Most of the souls seem to be enduring some typical gnashing-of-teeth stuff, but a few of them seem to be in a pretty bad way.

We’ve got a guy literally hacked limb from limb by an angry land shark with a meat cleaver.  Also a couple others are being drowned in a bucket by a mutant Chinese dragon with breasts.  There are at least three legs in there, so maybe they’re actually making people soup, and the meat-cleaver guy is just preparing the ingredients.

Next to the soup kitchen, a naked man is being held in one demon’s lap while another writes something up.  Possibly it is Vogon poetry.  Also there is a giant mutant rat-frog trying to get in on the action.

Moving up, a bunch of people are hanging out in a giant maw.  One guy seems to be doing a tribal dance with a torch, while another does hell’s version of a beer bong.  A third just got off the bong and is vomiting off the side.  So this is actually the Frat Party from Hell.

Elsewhere, in what appears to be a forgotten animation frame from Monty Python, a group of bird/egg/man/animals is being too manly to stop and ask for directions.  One of their helmets has a candle on it, for when hellfire just isn’t bright enough to light the way.

Hmm…giant bird snake charmer…possibly on a horse?  He’s got a man-leg in his saddlebag for a snack on the road.  Unlike the last group, he knows how easy it is to get lost around here.

Here we have the world’s saddest Christmas tree.  Devilmas tree?  It’s like the Charlie Brown tree, but with bottled human despair.

Finally, possibly my favorite part: Hell’s Quiddich.  

You fly on fire-breathing dragons instead of broomsticks, and have to keep your assigned human body on board.  Also you have a gun.  Well, one of them has a gun; the other one seems to be armed with a plunger.  It works for the Daleks, though, so who am I to question its fearsome potential?

Friday, 12 October 2012

He Likes Big Butts (and He Can Not Lie) (NSFW)

Today we’re looking at a few paintings by François Boucher, an 18th century French painter.
Could you guess he was French?  (François Boucher, Portrait by Gustav Lundburg)
Also I will warn you right off, this entry has even more naked bits than usual, so probably best not to be perusing it when your boss is around.  Unless s/he’s into animal rape, in which case hey, you learned something new about your boss!*

*Warning: I am going for my most offensive post yet.

The story goes that Zeus (a.k.a. Jupiter, that paragon of ideal marriage) gets horny and goes to earth to get it on with a woman called Leda.  To do this, he decides the best course of action is to take on the form of a swan.  Leda is then either seduced or raped by said swan, whichever you find less disturbing.
What, you thought I meant the animal was raped?  Welcome to mythology
 So apparently Leda liked to hang around naked in the first place, wearing nothing but her favorite strand of arm-pearls.  I don’t know who the other woman is supposed to be.  But I DO know that Boucher really liked to paint women in that pose.

Are you sure you don’t want me to wear the jewelry instead of lying next to it?  (Odalisque)
This girl is clearly like fourteen.  (Nude on a Sofa)
Even the hairstyle is basically the same.  I guess he liked to get ladies around to his studio, meticulously pin their hair to their head, and then say, “Well, I’m really just interested in your delightfully soft bum, but I guess I could paint your face in too if you insist.”

So anyway.  The Zeus-swan appears, and the two ladies at least look alarmed at having a giant bird aggressively approach them.  I know I would be alarmed.  A swan could snap your femur with its neck.  

But this was not the only Leda-and-Swan picture Boucher painted.
Source: When Art History Goes Bad
Really?  Swan erotica?  I mean, I guess at least here it appears to be consensual lady-swan relations, but would a swan really perform good cunnilingus?  Wouldn’t the beak be an issue?  But then the whole concept of a swan getting it on with a fully-grown human woman has some serious logistics issues all around.  Why am I even thinking about these questions?  Blast you, art!

And thus we have the classical equivalent of a fetishist magazine in a brown paper wrapper.

Monday, 8 October 2012

It's Tough to Be the Queen - Part 4

In the last installment of our ongoing series on the Life and Times of Marie de’ Medici, Marie successfully snagged a man when angels brought her portrait to Henry IV of France.  This time, we see her joyful wedding to her uncle, because Henry was too busy to attend.
Much like the deep relationships formed via X-Box Live today, the couple didn’t have a lot of time or opportunity to spend with each other in person.  Unfortunately, the Skype video-chat wedding had not been invented yet, so when Henry couldn’t fit his wedding into his busy schedule, her uncle had to take his place as proxy groom.  To be fair, he was probably about the same age as Henry.

I do wonder at the fact Marie seems to be taller than everyone in the room.  Is she standing on a box under her voluminous dress?  Is she part Amazonian?  Is it her shared genetics with the Olympian gods?

In an excellent example of classical self-insert fan fiction, Rubens himself is pictured in the crowd holding a cross.
I assume the cross is meant to ward off all of the pagan gods that seem to keep turning up in Marie’s life, from her birth to her education to finding her a man.

Unfortunately, the cross doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job.
Hymenaios, the god of marriage, hangs out holding the train of her dress and a torch.  His face has just a hint of mischief, suggesting he is considering lighting the dress on fire.  Also, why on earth is the god of marriage like eight years old?  Also also, “Hymenaios” would be a great name to bribe the hospital staff to put on the birth certificate for the newborn of someone you don’t like.

Anyway, the backdrop for this romantic scene for the ages is this statue.
I suppose that God the Father weeping over the broken form of Jesus represents one form of “eternal love and passion,” but it’s not the one I imagine the typical Bridezilla would choose as the central artistic representation of Her Special Day.  But then, when it’s your uncle putting a ring on it because your man is too busy to turn up, maybe you want some different symbolism.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

"Guardian" Angels: Raging Sociopaths?

A kindly nun, who for unfathomable reasons reads this blog but has not disowned me as a niece (yet), informed me that yesterday was the Feast of the Guardian Angels, and perhaps doing something with an angelic theme would be nice.  I agreed that this would be a good post topic, and proceeded to look up some pictures with guardian angels. 

As I looked, I noticed a disturbing theme.

All of them seem to be trying to murder their charges.

Bernard Plockhorst: The Guardian Angel (Source)
The angel silently approaches behind the two children, who are playing by a cliff edge, because that is the best place to play.  Her arms are outstretched, clearly ready to shove them off the edge.  To be fair, the one on the right looks like he's about to dive off the cliff after that butterfly, making the deed of the angel look even more like an accident.

In case you suppose this is a one-off disgruntled angel, going off the deep end due to angel-stress, think again.
Fridolin Leiber: The Guardian Angel (Source)

Once again there are two children by a cliff edge, one picking flowers and one going to his doom for a butterfly.  Once again the angel is about to push Dick and Jane into their first cliff-diving experience.  I guess times were tough so heaven could only afford to assign one angel per two children.  Shortages were particularly rampant in regions where 90% of the landmass was cliff-edges.

They don't only scheme cliff "accidents," either.
Unknown: The Guardian Angel (Source)
Here the plot is clearly to push the two children into the raging rapids.  That little girl trying to protect her brother doesn't stand a chance.

Now I know what you're thinking.  The angel is there because the wee darlings are in a dangerous situation, ready to pluck them away from the jaws of misfortune.  Well then, Mister or Miss Smarty-Reader, why isn't the angel in front of the children, to gently nudge them away from the edge?  As it is, the best they can do is yank the kids back by the hair, causing them severe trauma and possibly a near-death experience.

Pietro da Cortona: The Guardian Angel (Source)
Speaking of which, this painting seems to skip the whole "guardian" bit altogether.  I can only assume this child has passed on, perhaps from playing by a cliff edge while the angel was on coffee break, so now it is trying to guide the rather confused boy to the afterlife.  It certainly makes the surrounding area out to be a pretty bleak place.  Also, what on earth is going on in the background there?
It looks like another angel is being attacked from behind by some sort of black demonic creature.  Maybe this scene is actually depicting the end times, where the land is dark and full of evil, overrun by demons, and so this angel is helping its young charge leave behind this cesspool for a better place.  Helping!

In conclusion, happy belated Feast of the Guardian Angels!  Also, my apologies to Sister Sue for perhaps taking her idea in an unintended direction.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Holy Roman Emperor and the Mothra Hordes

Dear readers, I begin this week’s edition with the happy announcement that recently I have been nominated for not one, but two blog awards. 
First, thanks go to Scary Carrie at the Travelin-gineer, for giving me the Liebster Award.  Her blog is a cute and funny look at stereotypes of traveling Americans abroad and how not to be an obnoxious tourist.
Many thanks also to CrakGenius for the nod with the Versatile Blogger Award.  CG is neither a plumber nor a drug dealer, but he is a man with hilarious experiences involving scorpions and allergy medication, among other things.

With these awards you’re supposed to follow various rules, answering questions about yourself in a blog post and nominating several other blogs to receive the award and do the same.  However, you do not come here to read about me, you come here to look at pictures of nude nuns and rabbits with guns, according to Google.  As such I am going to cheat and just direct you to my blogroll at the right of the page for some blogs I read which are funny and awesome, and thus you should check them out.

With that, we turn to this week’s picture.  In honor of receiving the award-nods above, I thought a bit of apotheosis would be appropriately modest.
The Apotheosis of Charles VI by Paul Troger is an 18th century fresco found in Göttweig Abbey. 

Apotheosis, we recall, is the exaltation of a figure to divine status, the transformation of man into a god.  Here it is the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, depicted as the god Apollo.  Because that is the kind of association you make when you are a Roman Catholic ruler, apparently.
So he’s charging around in his golden chariot as a new god, leering death rays out of his eyeballs at the viewer.  But the stuff going on around the fringes is far more entertaining. 
First, we have Mothman, scattering flowers in his honor.  I kind of assume this is supposed to be an angel of some sort, but moth wings kind of make for the least impressive angel ever.  I mean, if anyone brushes against him, he’s crippled.  And no god wants an army of angel supporters that keep flying into bonfires.
Next, there is the most sarcastic angel ever.  She is playing that trumpet thinking, “Oh.  Yeah.  Great.  A new god-master.  Just what I wanted.  No really.”  I’m pretty sure she’d be making rude gestures if her hands weren’t full.
Then we come to the flying monkey gremlins.  This may be the missing evolutionary link to our ancient bird ancestors.  Either that, or the product of a jungle party where the chimpanzees and eagles got really drunk.
More moth-winged folks, but this time the wings are attached to nothing but baby heads looking lovingly at each other.  Because that’s not creepy.
Finally, we have a man with very large, fake elf ears being abducted by half-snake people with paws and dragon wings.  Or maybe they’re just playing invisible 3D Twister.  The woman with the spear they’re looking at might actually have the game spinner behind her shield.  I bet it is difficult to play Twister when you haven’t got legs.

So yes.  Turn into a god and get snarky followers with monstrous deformities.  Also blog awards.  Not that you turn into a god and automatically get blog awards.  Although I bet you would have some pretty great blog-fodder as a god.