Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My WTF and other moments in art history

I recently went to the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain. And while I saw lots of amazing art (Bosch) and lots of bad art (Goya), I wasn't quite expecting to see so much boob.

Before we dive into the boob though, let's start this post with some of the other weird paintings that Prado has in it's collection. For instance it has an entire room dedicated to "Dwarves and Buffoons" also known more appropriately as little people.

Author: Hamen y León, Juan van der (Spanish)
Title: Portrait of a Dwarf
Ca. 1626

At least he looks pretty pimp in that outfit. Next we move on to the various paintings that depict Saturn eating his children (look up your mythology if you don't know the reference). Now these are pretty awesome, except for Goya's (god what a shitty painter). This one, in my opinion, is the prize of the Prado collection. Its the only one that depicts the child as an actual baby.

Author: Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
Title: Saturn devouring his son

I actually like Rubens a lot. He doesn't hold back. There will be more from him later.

Alright time for the good stuff. Here we have Adam getting handsy with Eve. We see through that whole "I was just trying to stop her from eating the fruit" bit.

Author: Titian (Italian)
Title: Adam and Eve
Ca. 1550

Next we have a simple picture of the Virgin breast feeding Jesus. There were at least 40 images of Mary breast feeding Jesus. Baby J just couldn't get enough. Apparently that is the only thing those two did because there are very few paintings in which Jesus isn't latched on to Mary's teet. In fact I think when they talk about the adoration of the Magi, they were adoring Mary's sweet rack. But I get it, this is the closest priests get to boobs so paint away!

Author: Patenier, Joachim (Flemish)
Title: Rest on the Flight from Egypt
After 1519

Next we have what I call "flash you for a royal title". I love this one. I'm pretty sure this is me in a previous life. And her expression...haha classic!

Author: Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti (Italian)
Title: Lady Baring her Breast
Ca. 1555

Alright now we head into my top 4 Prado double takes. Here we have Hera giving birth to the milky way with actual breast milk. Now I like my mythology and I've read this story at some point but to see! And it looks like baby Hercules (who, mythology has it, nursed too vigoriously) is enjoying a little of the splash. Then we have the creeper (maybe Zeus?) in the back. Freaking hilarious!

Author: Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
Title: The Birth of the Milky Way
Ca. 1637

And here we have Mary, with the help of Baby J, putting out the flames of Purgatory. Now my Catholicism is a little shaky but I didn't think limbo had flames. Favorite moment: the one angel who looks totally grossed out by the whole situation. I also like that the artist depicts Mary's breasts as just a bag of milk that you can squeeze and it just comes pouring out right on out. Doesn't work that way Dude.

Author: Machuca, Pedro (Spanish)
Title: The Virgin and the Souls of Purgatory

Then...dear lord in that...could it Mary shooting milk into a priest's mouth? Yes folks indeed she is. Here is the story: Saint Bernard, a monk, while praying to the Virgin Mary said "show yourself to be a mother", at which point the statue of Mary came to life, grasped her breast and squirted milk into old Bernie's mouth. The miracle of lactation!

Author: Alonso Cano
Title: The Vision of St Bernard

Oh Bernie....

And last but not least we have my favorite (actually not my favorite but definitely number 1 on the icky list). I actually have not seen this painting, as it is at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, but I saw the statue version of it at the Prado. I think it is creepy no matter what medium it appears in. It refers to the legend of Cimon and Pero. Pero was imprisoned and sentence to death. So that he would die quicker he was not allowed to eat. His daughter, Cimon, would visit him everyday and breastfeed him to give him nourishment. The guards respected her charity so much that eventually Pero was set free. This is the story of Roman Charity. Whatever the story this image is burned in my retinas...

Author: Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
Title: Cimon and Pero or Roman Charity
Ca. 1630
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Well I guess that is it. I apologize if there are weird spelling errors or if the post format is off. I have been typing this on a tiny little iPod screen. Oh well...Enjoy!


  1. Oh goodness! WTF is right! This reminds me of Grapes of Wrath, at the end, the young pregnant lady gives her breast milk to an old man who was thirst or something ... ! Scared me for weeks straight!

    Best wishes from one blogger to another,


  2. You must be very patient to do that whole blog post from your iPod. You've found some interesting art out there in the world!