Laocoön and His Sons attributed to Agesander, Athenodoros
and Polydorus of Rhodes (c. 160–20 BCE).
No jokes about snakes in a frame, please. Bram Dijkstra’s Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin de Siècle Culture (1986) is a wide-ranging study of the “iconography of misogyny” in 19th century painting. Dijkstra examines the numerous ways that women were depicted in late Victorian and Symbolist art, with one chapter, “Connoisseurs and Bestiality and Serpentine Delights”, being devoted to representations of women with animals, especially snakes. The story of Eve and the Serpent prompts many of these latter images, of course, while scenes with other creatures seem intended to demonstrate the Victorian attitude that woman was closer to the brute beasts than man and could often be found conspiring with them to bring down her masculine masters. Continue reading “Men with snakes”