Saturday, March 28, 2009

Follow-up to The Friday Evening Nudes

The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil

Thanks to the curiosity of Linda and Mojo, I was smitten to do a little research on the Ary Scheffer painting I posted last night on the Friday Evening Nudes.

Being a lazy blogger, I didn't even dig far enough to get the title, which would have been instructional in and of itself.

Interesting that I should post this painting pretty much on the heels of The Seven Deadly Sins meme as it depicts Dante's lovers from The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Canto V. And I didn't even know the title until I started to do a little research!

Dante then asks particularly to speak to two sinners who are together, and Virgil tells him to call them to him in the name of love. They come, and one thanks Dante for his pity and wishes him peace, and she then tells their story. She reveals first that a lower circle of Hell waits for the man who murdered them. With bowed head, Dante tells Virgil he is thinking of the "sweet thoughts and desires" that brought the lovers to this place. Calling Francesca by name, he asks her to explain how she and her lover were lured into more here from Canto V

As for the Brulov painting entitled Virsavia by Karl Brulov (or Brullov as I've also found it spelled), all I could find was the alternate title Bathsheba, wife David of the Hebrew bible. I'm assuming the rapt admirer is a slave attending Bathsheba in her bath. WP thinks the slave may be female. What do you think?



  1. I imagine he's a slave but I am thinking a eunuch, which as I remember, would have been common? I am not sure but this doesn't look like a woman to me unless it's a young woman because she has no breasts....that's what made me wonder what was going on so thank you , dear heart, for answering my questions...

    these nudes were especially compelling or maybe I'm just bored! ;)

  2. well, after blowing the painting way up, I think it's a male figure.... ;)

    yes, I'm bored as i scrutinize for evidence of male or female evidence...

  3. hahahaha! Boredom is why I post this stuff!

    A eunich! that's it!

  4. If the slave is male, he would almost surely have been a eunuch, which might account for the somewhat feminine facial features. (Assuming he'd been snipped at a young age.)

    However, eunuchs were typically shall we say... round in their post-operative state. I'm not sure what the direct cause was, but the effect seems to have been fairly consistent. Still, I'd imagine that even a eunuch would hardly have been so familiar with her majesty. That s/he would be in the bath at all suggests a servant that the queen (and the king for that matter) would be comfortable with, but the hand on her thigh takes things to a whole other level. I'm not sure even a eunuch would have gotten away with that.

    What I noticed upon embiggenating was that apparently the loofah dates back to the Old Testament! Who knew?

    And the Dante connection explains the two shadowy onlookers immediately. At first I wasn't sure what was going on there, but it certainly didn't seem like anything that would've been talked about -- even in artistic circles -- in 1835. Or 1935 for that matter. I wonder what the folks of the day thought of this work...

  5. Whenever I hear/see the word "eunuch", I think of that amazing scene in the movie "The Last Emperor."

    In the Forbidden City (Beijing, c. 1900), all the palace eunuchs are being fired (for suspicion of plotting against the throne, IIRC). It seems that even fired royal eunuchs still have certain rights, however: in their hundreds, each goes forward to receive a small clay jar . . . containing his testacles! (So they can all be "buried as Real Men"). Incredible! :-0

  6. Mojo: all excellent questions. Which I love because it's comments like yours that awaken my curiosity in this somewhat esoteric nonsense! :-)

    After a week of conversations with five and six year-olds, one gets a little stir-crazy for something a bit more stimulating than Dr. Seuss. ;-)

  7. JCF: I haven't see The Last Emperor. Testicles in a jar, huh? Not nuts on a platter? Did I just type that?? I think it's something guys say, isn't it? :-D

    Now I've got some reading to do. On eunuchs. Yikes.


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