I often post about Victorian paintings, and I'm delighted every time I come across another example of sexuality, kinkiness or downright perversion creeping into the respectable world of the fine arts. This sneakiness is a source of delight and much head-scratching for me (Is it unconscious? Is it rank hypocrisy? Is it deliberate subversion? Is it pure capitalist opportunism?).
|Ernest Normand (1859-1923): The Bitter Draught of Slavery|
But while choosing another Orientalist picture to share last week, I was reminded that I have several examples on file of pictures that I've deliberately avoided posting in the past, because they actually step over the boundary of Kinkdom into areas that are, to my mind, genuinely disturbing. I'm not talking about the "slave market" subgenre of paintings like the one above, which is certainly predicated on what we would now recognise as BDSM leanings in the prospective viewer/purchaser.
I'm not even talking about mere depictions of dead bodies, as here:
|George Frederic Watts (1817-1904): Found Drowned|
But there are paintings, particularly by the Orientalists, that I keep tucked away in a file tastefully titled "Victorian Snuff."
|Z Rozkazu: On the orders of the Padishah (1881)|
|Theodore Jacques Ralli (1852-1909): Ah! Jalouse Entre les Jalouses|
And if you are feeling particularly sadistic:
|Ferencz-Franz Eisenhut: Before the Punishment (1890)|
But don't think it's always women who end up dead:
|Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904) : The Heads of the Rebel Beys at the Mosque of El-Hasanein, Cairo.|
Admittedly, these male corpses aren't sexualised. That would be "deviant," after all ...
Is it just a tad ironic that respectable upper-class Westerners should choose to express their disapproval of "oriental cruelty" by hanging fabulously attractive pictures of it in their homes?
But hey, I'm a big fan of irony.