Monday, June 1, 2009

DeCameron or DeCarmen?


I wanted to draw your attention to this very fascinating blog post by blogger Matthew Innis. The question posed is...is the figure on the far right of the artwork The Decameron by Waterhouse a man, or a woman?

Read the blog post, and feel free to post your thoughts!

10 comments:

Hermes said...

Good question. On no evidence I would say a man.

Medieval Muse said...

Since the bard in the painting is performing for his captive female audience, I think it would be odd for any woman to be behind him and not part of said audience. Based on that alone, I believe it is a man, albeit a rather "pretty" one. He is probably an apprentice or student.

Waterhouse almost always painted a delicate "ski slope" nose (modern plastic surgeons would be so proud) on his female figures. The nose scoops in and tip-tilts on the end. This figure does not. The clothing looks a bit feminine (slashed sleeves), but isn't that tan part a leg in breeches?

Grace said...

Lisa, for the record, I agree with you...and the point about his audience member being behind him is a good one I hadn't read elsewhere. But I can see where the confusion lies too...his lips are quite full and pouty, and other than the masculine angles of his features, he looks quite a bit like studies Waterhouse has done of women. How strange that he chose to make this figure so difficult to read!

Anonymous said...

I vote for man, based on the jawline being a bit heavier and what looks like the breeches, which are easier to see in the close-up. His tunic lacing also mirrors the troubador's.
Trish

Malgorzata Maj / Sarachmet said...

the clothes look like of male's actually, also I would agree as for the jawline. So, a handsome & a bit androgynic man, it would seem :)

Malgorzata Maj / Sarachmet said...

P.S. Also, quite striking is the fact that this ( I assume) young man seems to be the only representative of Italian male type of look ( as referring to Decameron presenting Italian characters ), while all the girls remain so pre-raphaelite, even if they pretend being of various nations (here: Italian), this man really looks like many late medieval/early renaissance Italian boys would have looked like ( even nowaydays you will find full lips and androgynic look among much more young men from this area, than many other nations ) ...now, what comes to my mind is that Waterhouse has taken the subject of sexuality in this painting on an equally playful basis, as Boccaccio did ;)

Grace said...

Wow...all *really* excellent points and arguments. Sarachmet, what a great point about the man being the only representation of Italianate looks! I've seen a few sketches Waterhouse did for this scene, and even in those the women have his typical "Waterhouse ideal" look. I'd be curious to know if there are any other earlier sketches where the women also have a more Italianate look, but I doubt it...he truly seemed to find a type and stick to it :)

William said...

Considering that the clothing is consistent with the clothing worn by the men, and not similar to that of any of the women, my guess is that the intent was that the person be at least perceived as a man...but that doesn't mean that the model wasn't a woman.

Midnight Muse said...

I think the figure is masculine (but pretty), and that he's either the same model as the man in The Siren or that he and the man in The Siren are masculinized versions of Waterhouse ideals.

Grace said...

"he and the man in The Siren are masculinized versions of Waterhouse ideals"

Tess, this is a brilliant insight!! I think you just hit the nail on the head with this. And it sounds like William had the same idea too. I suspect that this "gentleman" was the result of Waterhouse starting with a female model, and his female ideal, and then trying to make her over into a more masculine figure.