I was excited to discover recently that the Dutch Rijksmuseum has a massive digitized collection, which has several convenient pre-sorted collections by artist, style, story, etc. I was even more entertained to see that one of the subject sub-categories they offer under the “Daily Life” heading is “Immoral Women.”
Ah ha, I thought to myself. SARFT gold mine SCORE. I immediately clicked it open, and was treated to the image of this brazen hussy.
Mary Magdalene, Jan van Scorel, c. 1530
This is the very first picture in the lineup. I mean, I guess she is fingering that ointment jar somewhat alluringly, but otherwise I have seen more immoral lampshades. According to the website’s description, Mary Magdalene’s luxurious clothing is “a reference to her reputed past as a prostitute.” Let me tell you, I Googled Dutch Prostitutes, and none of them were dressed like that.
The next two paintings were on the same subject, so here is a representative sample:
Bathsheba at her Toilet, Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, 1594
Ok. This one has female nudity. Taking a bath - scandalous! However, I would like to dwell for a moment of on the story of Bathsheba. This beautiful married lady Bathsheba takes a bath. (With a name like that, I guess she couldn't help herself.) King David sees her from afar and goes, “I’d hit that.” So he sends “messengers” to escort her to his room, and “he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness.” She conceives a child, so David sends her husband to the front line of a particularly intense battle to be killed. She mourns her dead husband, but David marries her as soon as a socially acceptable time period has passed.
So for art categorization purposes, taking a bath while female will ultimately make you dirty, never mind the man who forcibly drags a married woman to sleep with him and offs her husband for his own purposes.
Being irritated by this, I checked, but the museum does not have a “Jerkwad Men of the Bible” collection. Or rather they do, but it is under another name. Amusing note: “Monkeys” is listed as a related subcategory under Old Testament.
Sorry. Mini-rant over. Moving on with the immoral femininity:
Man and Woman at a Spinning Wheel, Pieter Pietersz. (I), c. 1560 - c. 1570
Because nothing says “loose woman” like sitting covered head to toe, with sleeves and a collar that would make a defensive lineman feel more secure. Also, I am not sure why she has tentacles protruding from her bonnet; I guess that’s kind of risqué, if you’re into that sort of thing. The guy seems pretty intent on breaching the perimeter, but again, she’s just doing her thing and ignoring him. I guess in the 16th century holding sheep wool was super sexxay, so she’s totally an immoral fiend.
Woman at her Toilet, Jan Havicksz. Steen, 1655 - 1660
I guess I forgot to mention this post was NSFW because OMG LOOK AT ANKLE!! Totally hawt sock removal right there. Nice glimpse of side-thigh, too, to get your juices going.
The Martyrdom of Saint Lucy, Master of the Figdor Deposition, c. 1505 - c. 1510
Ok, Rijksmuseum. Now you are taking the piss.
This painting is worthy of a post on its own, but for present Immoral Woman-themed purposes, my limited understanding of the story of Saint Lucy is as follows: she dedicated her virginity to God, convinced her mother to give away her dowry to the poor, and was burned at the stake when she refused to make a pagan sacrifice and efforts to put her in a brothel failed. Except that she wouldn’t burn, either, so she was stabbed to death, as depicted here.
Pure is the new immoral.
The museum certainly seems to have a sense of humor – I particularly enjoy that in addition to being able to download high-res copies of the works, they also encourage you to put them on other objects such as smartphone covers, or your car. You can also gather images to make your own collections and share them on the site. I think I know what the title of my first collection should be...