Wednesday, October 27, 2010
one of the earliest coffee table books that i ever bought was "Erotic Art of the Masters" during my student days. the book had pictures of paintings of naked women or couples in sexual acts which would be considered pornography by many. what i didn't know at the time was that famous painters like manet picasso watteau renoir and many more did paint a lot of risque and downright dirty pictures. it came as a pleasant surprise and this book has remained one of my treasured possession and favorite till this day. it led me to all sorts of new experience and knowledge and appreciation of 'specialist' paintings such as indian miniature paintings and japanese shunga.
one of the most arresting pictures in the book was not the explicit sexual coupling or a naked body but a seemingly innocent fully clothed picture of a girl by an 18th century french artist jean baptiste greuze . the girl had her left breast partially exposed with pink nipple clearly visible and she was carrying a cracked water pitcher on her right arm and a bouquet of flower hiding her pubic region. as the caption in the book says...the crack indicates that she has lost her virginity . the contemporary viewer understood. it's a deeply erotic and sensual painting.
serendipitously many years later i came across the original painting when i visited the louvre for the first time. life is like that sometimes.