Friday, 4 August 2017

Shame! Shame! Shame!

Victorian art lovers were always up for a good bit of slut-shaming:

Augustus Egg: Past and Present no.1: Misfortune (1858)
In the very famous painting above, the wife's adulterous letter has been intercepted by her husband and she's about to reap the whirlwind. In fact the other two painting in the tryptich go on to show the children abandoned in a garret years later, and the destitute adultress dying under a bridge near the Thames.

But hey! Since you - as an upright Victorian - don't approve of women being naughty, you get to enjoy pictures of them being shamed for it! In fact there is a loooooong artistic history of depiction of Christ and the Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8), in which she can be seen looking suitably disheveled, frightened and penitent.

Giuseppe Sciuti. The Adulteress (1906)
Here's an obscure Arthurian legend illustrated by, you'll note, a female artist:

Isobel Gloag: The Magic Mantle (1898)
In the story, a boy comes to court with three magic items; a mantle that conceals nothing if the woman wearing it has ever been unfaithful, and a knife and a drinking horn that can only be used by a man who is not a cuckold. Queen Guinevere tries on the dress with disastrous results and has to flee in shame from the court.

In fact, you didn't even have to have been shagging about to be publicly stripped and leered at. Here's Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester in a historical incident in which she has to do the Walk of Shame for consulting with a witch-woman about the possible future date of the King's death:

Edwin Austin Abbey: The Penance of Eleanor (1900)

She addresses her husband in the crowd thus, according to Shakespeare:

Methinks I should not thus be led along,
 Mail'd up in shame, with papers on my back,
 And followed with a rabble that rejoice
 To see my tears and hear my deep-fet groans.
 The ruthless flint doth cut my tender feet,
 And when I start, the envious people laugh
 And bid me be advised how I tread.
 Ah, Humphrey, can I bear this shameful yoke?
 (Henry VI, Part 2)

But don't fret; occasionally the guy gets equal artistic treatment too:

Jules Arsène Garnier: The Punishment of the Adulterers (1876)
Altogether now: "Shame!"

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