Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Leda, Her Swan, Her Friends And Their Pets

Posted in Beaux Arts, Eyecandy by Suzanne G. on August 20th, 2004 | BBC Wikipedia

(click on thumbnails for detailed view)

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

(W. B. Yeats "Leda and the Swan", 1928)

There's nothing more sexually piquant yet sweetly intimate than a portrait of a lady with her favourite pet...

I'm currently trying to collect a bunch of enchanting and haunting illustrations of Grandes Dames and their pets. Submissions from any art-historical period are very welcome.

Please contact me via e-mail, MSN, snail mail (you have my address if you're a chosen one...), smoke signals, cryptograms, alphorns, morse signals, or helicopter banners. Just don't call me - I didn't pay my phone bill this month. Thanks! :)


Picture index:

(From top to bottom, left to right)

Cesare da Sesto: Leda and the Swan, ca. 1510
École de Fontainebleau: Diana, ca. 1540
Leonardo da Vinci: Lady with an Ermine, ca. 1485
H. H. (d. J.): Lady with a Squirrel & a Starling, 1528
S. Anguissola: Portrait of a Lady & Her Dog, undated
Michael Sowa: Herbert, 1985
Masaru Shichinohe: Black & White, 2003
Esao Andrews: Chandra, 2004
Aurélien Police: Lady Bird, 2003
H. Bourne (after J. C. Horsley): The Novice, 1867
Fred Zinnemann: The Nun's Story (movie still), 1959
M. Von Trotta: Rosa Luxemburg (movie still), 1986
N.N.: Theda Bara With Dog, ca. 1925

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