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Friday, October 26, 2012

A Macabre View of Paris Part Four

 The paintings in Paris are not always of beautiful scenery with soft, impressionistic vistas.  This time around, we'll look at a few of the more macabre images you will find around the City of Light.
Right away, as you enter the Pantheon, you'll be treated to this larger than life mural of the patron Saint of Paris--Saint Denis.  As we've mentioned in earlier posts, after his martyrdom, he is said to have picked up his head and walked with it, preaching the gospel for ten miles before finally dying.
You can't keep a good man down.
 Okay, this takes some explaining.  These next two are from the Louvre, details from Mantegna's Pallas and the Vices (aka Minerva Expelling the Vices from the Garden of Virtues).
Here we see two figures helping a third, drunken figure.  Their Latin headbands are translated as (left to right) Ingratitude, Ignorance, Avarice/Greed.
 This detail from the same painting has some rather creepy little owl cupids who seem to be helping Athena, though it is hard to tell.  Are they instead, perhaps,the classic precursors to Batman and Hawkeye?
 I know we covered this guy before, but he offered a hand in order to demonstrate the more ghoulish images you'll find in Paris.  This detail, from Salvator Rosa's Heroic Battle.  A picture that seems to be an inspiration for Hammer Horror films.
This detail is from a mural on the walls of the Pantheon--Joseph Paul Blanc's The Vow of Clovis at the Battle of Tolbiac.

Finally, we get this great shot, which is not a a scene from the latest Scarlett Johansson tough girl action flick.  It is, in fact, from Jacques-Louis David's 1799 oil painting The Intervention of the Sabine Women, which is in fact a far more moving story than a Hollywood action movie would be.  The Romans, denied a chance to marry women from the Sabine tribe, attack the Sabines at a festival in order to steal away the women.  In order to prevent further bloodshed, the women intervene, offering themselves as a sort of living sacrifice.  Of interest here is the woman in yellow holding up her baby, which I imagine is her way of attempting to keep it out of the melee all around her.  Even more moving is the old woman, in the center, just beginning to bare her breast in a sacrificial gesture.  And of course, what parent cannot be moved by the little pile of babies endangered by the warring men as the women hover over them in an attempt to protect them?

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