Uranian inspirations


left: Sicilian boy by Wilhelm von Gloeden (no date); right: Jugend cover by Hans Christiansen (1896).

My current reading is The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (2003), a long and fascinating study by Neil McKenna which attempts to disentangle the true nature of Wilde’s sex life from the myths and evasions of his biography and biographers. Among the pictures in the book, McKenna shows a couple of the “Uranian” photographs by Wilhelm von Gloeden (1856–1931) which Wilde owned. Von Gloeden’s views of naked Sicilian boys were described as “Classical” in a barely-believable subterfuge familiar during the 19th century, and it’s understandable why Wilde, who’d been praising the attractions of Mediterranean youth for most of his adult life, would have found these pictures worthy of purchase. Wikimedia Commons has a substantial set of the photos, although it should be noted that provenance is often uncertain; there were other photographers active in Taormina at the time who catered to a similar market. One photo in particular stood out recently when I recognised it as the possible source for the figure on a Hans Christiansen cover for Jugend magazine of 1896. The cover above has appeared here before but this is the first time I made the photographic connection.


left: Jeune homme assis au bord de la mer by Jean Hippolyte Flandrin (1836); right: Cain by Wilhelm von Gloeden (c. 1902).

Gloeden, of course, was one of the first people to use the Flandrin pose, as I noted in the original post on that theme. I wonder if he knew he’d been copied in turn? That Jugend cover and its inspiration reminds me a little of Flandrin’s other depiction of Classical youth, his portrait of Polites, a painting which Oscar would no doubt have enjoyed.


Polites, Son of Priam, Observes the Movements of the Greeks by Jean Hippolyte Flandrin (1834).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The recurrent pose archive
The Oscar Wilde archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Forbidden Colours
Jugend Magazine
Evolution of an icon

The recurrent pose 6


Further examples of the Flandrin pose from photographer Amat Nimitpark. Not sure what’s going on in the picture above but the scene below finds a use for a nearly-nude male that would no doubt have surprised Jean Hippolyte Flandrin. Needless to say, I can think of a few other uses for this blue-eyed boy…


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Angels 3: A diversion

On Monday Eroom Nala mentioned my Fallen Angel picture in one of the comments for the first angel posting. Here’s the picture in question (from 2004).


As I mentioned earlier, this was based on Jeune homme assis au bord de la mer (Young Man Sitting by the Seashore, 1836), the most well-known painting by Jean Hippolyte Flandrin (1809–1864). In a posting back in February I wrote about how this painting has become something of a gay icon over 170 years, with increasing numbers of artists and photographers working their own variations on the pose. As far as I was aware, I was the only person to have tried adding wings to the figure.


Now today I run across a great gallery of photographs by Jose Manchado who has his rather gorgeous model, Reuben, adopt the same pose then gives him a set of abstract wings.


Manchado’s other photographs are well worth a look. He also adds more realistic wings to a female model but since we’re concerning ourselves with male angels this week I’ll leave you to look for her.

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The gay artists archive
The recurrent pose archive

Evolution of an icon


Jean Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864) was a Neo-Classical painter whose work tends to lack the sensuality of his master, Ingres, yet who managed to produce one picture at least which has been an inspiration to subsequent artists and photographers.

Jeune Homme Assis au Bord de la Mer (Young Man Sitting by the Seashore) was painted in 1836. The simplicity and directness of the rendering is probably intended to be reminiscent of Classical sculpture and the figures seen on Greek pottery and bas-reliefs. There’s nothing in Flandrin’s history to suggest a homoerotic intent but the picture has that effect nonetheless, and it’s to gay artists (and viewers) that the work has mostly appealed since, as can be seen below.


The first (?) copy, usually dated as being from 1900 although it may be earlier, and a very careful imitation of the original pose. Photographer Wilhelm von Gloeden specialised in Classical-themed gay erotica and gave his figure a Biblical allusion by titling the picture Cain. Gloeden’s follower, Gaetano d’Agata, produced his own version.


Ebony and Ivory (1897) by Fred Holland Day.


L’Apocalypse by Pierre Yves Trémois (1961).


Ajitto by Robert Mapplethorpe (1981).


A rare sculpture version, L’Homme de l’Apocalypse by Pierre Yves Trémois (1998).


Finally, here’s my own Fallen Angel picture from 2004 which added wings to the figure.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The recurrent pose archive
The gay artists archive