Friday, July 12, 2019

You learn something every day!

The Meaning behind One of the Most Oddly Erotic Paintings in Western Art by Hannah Williams

Portrait présumé de Gabrielle d'Estrées et de sa sur la duchesse de Villars (Gabrielle d'Estrées and One of Her Sisters), 16th century, Musée du Louvre
Despite what it might look like to the contemporary viewer, a purely queer reading of the work would be misguided. Rather than a depiction of lesbian foreplay, most art historians interpret the painting as an announcement that Gabrielle is pregnant with the King’s illegitimate son. It’s her sister who is signaling this to the audience, not her lover. The fingers wrapped around Gabrielle’s nipple symbolizes the latter’s fertility, an allusion emphasized by the presence of the figure sewing baby’s clothes in the back of the painting.
Read the whole fascinating article here.