Thursday, December 6, 2007

500 Years...Lord Leighton's Pavonia

In a recent posting we saw a parade of women depicted in painting down through the centuries. Here's one who might have caught your eye, Pavonia, by Lord Frederic Leighton. She's the 52nd image and shows up about one minute and thirty-five seconds into the video.

The subject for this painting is one who Leighton actually painted five times (one of the portraits is lost). Her name was Nanna Risi and she was described as being of "imposing stature." The art historian Richard Dorment, writing in the late 1970s, referred to her "hooded eyes and heavy brows."

That's just what we like. We already counted the cloying hyper-sentimentality of the pre-Raphaelites among our guilty pleasures. This just makes it better. Nice going, Lord Freddy!

And here is Nanna Risi as A Roman Lady, painted by Lord Leighton in 1859.

Scroll-down Art History Bonus Lesson: La Nanna, as she was known, posed for many artists. Here she is shown in works by (clockwise from top left), Bonnat, Gérôme, Nathanael Schmitt, and Albert Hertel. The images span something like 30 years from Gérôme's 1844ish portrait to Schmitt's of 1874.

Incidentally, Anselm Feuerbach painted La Nanna several times, but he so butchered her in his portrayal of Lucrezia Borgia (1866) that I refuse to show his work here. So there. If you really want to see it, haul your ass to the Städelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt.

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