Saturday, 27 September 2014

Revenge of the Babies

It’s been several weeks now since creepy naked babies have played a major role in this blog.  I recently stumbled across the works of 15th century Italian painter Andrea del Sarto, who provided more fodder for this category than I had ever imagined.  I think that he must have had some kind of complex about children, because almost every one he painted looks ready to devour your soul, but he painted them ALL THE TIME.  Like, maybe he killed a baby once and its ghost haunted him in revenge forever.  That is the only explanation I can think of for these paintings. 

This is one of the most normal ones.
The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, Andrea del Sarto, c. 1530 (Source)

This is a remarkably reasonable-looking baby Jesus.  The main reason it stuck out to me was the slightly wicked smirk on his face as he grasps the globe of power in his chubby baby hands. 

Yes, Baby God, the world is your plaything.  But you don’t have to look so happy about toying with your human puppets.

Things get weirder.
The Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist, Andrea del Sarto (Source)

This is the same general theme as the previous one.  Except here, besides Mary having a head the size of a coconut, Young Saint John looks like he is about to cheerfully skewer Baby Jesus’ eyeball with his delicate cross-scepter.
Charity, Andrea del Sarto, before 1530 (Source)


Seriously, what does this guy think of Charity?
Charity, Andrea del Sarto, c. 1518 (Source)

I am not sure if the one on the left wants to take some kindly offered breast-sustenance in exchange for some poor little bird he’s caught, or if he is going to devour her flesh.  Also, this time the third kid at the bottom just cannot take this anymore.  That poor woman looks like she needs a week’s sleep, and possibly a fifth of vodka.
Madonna with the Harpies, Andrea del Sarto, c. 1517 (Source)


Also, I am concerned for this creature.

Its expression is a recurring theme.
Madonna and Child with Saint Elizabeth, the Infant Saint John, and Two Angels, Andrea del Sarto, c. 1515-1516 (Source)

What kind of freaky adolescent angel makeout session is going on right over Mary and Baby’s heads?? 

I’ve heard of divine ecstasy, but this is not what I had envisioned.

I leave you with this.
Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine, Andrea del Sarto, c. 1513 (Source)

Besides the uncomfortable implications of mystically marrying baby-version Jesus, the dull, empty eye sockets of all the small people in this painting remind me uncomfortably of ghouls in Japanese horror movies.  And that’s before even considering this ginger baby strangling a lamb with a grin, with some deformed dog-dragon thing without eyes desperately panting for a taste.

I should really stop writing these before bed.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

You Don’t Know (Union) Jack

In a historic vote this week, either Scotland tried and failed to gain independence, or Scottish nationalists tried and failed to break up a venerable union.  Depends on your perspective.  In any case, the United Kingdom remains united, so on this occasion I present a representation of British determination in the past.
The Battle of Alexandria, 21 March 1801 – Philip James de Loutherbourg, 1802 (Source)

So according to my diligent Wikipedia research, on March 21, 1801 the British fought the French while en route to Alexandria.  As I am sure you would never have guessed from the painting title.

But I am not a historian.  I just look at pictures and make snide comments.  So let the snideness commence.
Fun fact: Scotsmen get a tassel on their sporran for every pub brawl they win.

Here is a Scottish soldier, pointing as if to say, “Should we no be goin’ intae that battle now?” 
Leg injury, or latest European Leg Scarf fashion?

The commander, however, is injured, and looks either too drunk or too lethargic to make a move.  Mr. Sassy behind him is not about to endorse any plan that might get blood splatters all over his good red coat. The guy with the spyglass is like, “Hmm…by jove, he’s right!  There IS a battle going on!”
The Bobbsey Triplets are distinctly unimpressed.

There is further dissention within the ranks.  These men angrily say, “This man is not to be trusted!  He is both ginger and wearing a skirt!”

Of course, it was a terrifying event, and not everyone was smug.  Some of them would rather nuzzle a horse’s bum than join the fray.
“I say, shall we sally forth?”  “Quite so, sir!”

This is not to say that no one is keen to go fight.  These two are riding out with all the gusto of gentlemen heading to the hunt.

The biggest question remains, however:

Why is everyone in this little pow-wow ignoring the man spasming on the ground on top of a crate like three feet away?  I mean, I understand that it’s a battle and there are dead people everywhere, but he seems to be flailing around as if to say, “Hello!  I’m still alive here!”  Or maybe he’s not injured, and he just tripped and fell while carrying the supplies?

In conclusion, throughout history there have always been things that bring people together to work for a common cause.  Sometimes it is economic stability, and sometimes it is beating up the French. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Immoral Women, Ho!

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...