Sculptures in the Hermitage

Antonio Canova ~ Amor and Psyche ~ 1786-93

When I was searching for images for this blog, I noticed many Romantic sculptures were in the collection of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg Russian. Since I had not covered these sculptures in previous posts, I decided to post on them together.

John Gibson ~ Psyche Carried by the Zephyrs ~ 1837

Feminist groups often express grief over the nude images of women exhibited in museums. For example, the Guerrilla Girls claim that 85% of the nudes in the Metropolitan Museum are female. I’m very doubtful of such claims. When I was collecting images of sculptures in the Hermitage, I could not help but notice that many of the sculptures were male nudes. It seems that there were as many male nudes in the collection as there were female.

Boris Ivanovich Orlowski ~ Faun and Bacchante ~ 1837

To refute the feminist’s claims of exploitation, it should be noted that the nude males in sculpture tend to be more exposed than females. Women in Romantic works are often draped from the waist, while males are usually completely nude. The primary fault of most feminists is historical ignorance, they make the error of interpreting past culture within the context of today’s capitalist consumer culture.

Antonio Canova ~ The Three Graces ~ 1817

Luigi Bienaimé ~ Telemachus Arming ~ 1835

Luigi Bienaimé ~ Shepherdess ~ 1852



Mary Cassatt: Nurturing the Soul

Mary Cassatt ~ The Young Bride ~ 1875

Mary Cassatt (1845-1927) was an extraordinary young woman, the daughter of a wealthy Pennsylvania family, who against her parents’ wishes began studying painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, at the early age of fifteen. She made her studies from 1861 through 1865, the duration of the American Civil War. Among her fellow students was the rustic realist Thomas Eakins. She went to Paris to continue the study of painting, since women could not yet attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Cassatt studied privately with the highly regarded master Jean-Léon Gérôme. Cassatt’s early work, Young Bride, with its somber pallet of earth tones is similar in mood to the work of her contemporary Eakins.

Mary Cassatt ~ Little Girl in a Blue Armchair ~ 1878

The work of Edgar Degas made a powerful impression on Cassatt when she encountered them in an art dealer’s window in 1875. Degas later invited her to exhibit her work in Impressionist show, planned for 1878, which (after a postponement because of the World’s Fair) took place on April 10, 1879. Only three years after Young Bride was painted, Cassatt painted her lovely Little Girl in a an Armchair. Cassatt was not an imitator of Degas or of anybody else. She developed her own distinctive style of precisely defined form, which she combined with impressionist informality of subject and composition. It is customary to say about any woman painter, as if it were the ultimate compliment, that she paints with almost the vigor of a man. But the beauty of Cassatt’s art is its femininity, which in her case is not to be confused with weakness, indecision, or an only partial achievement of a masculine standard. One would not want to “strengthen” Little Girl in a an Armchair any more than one would want to endow its lovely sitter with the muscles of a wrestler.

Mary Cassatt ~ Mother and Child ~ 1899

Regardless of Cassatt’s inventiveness with form, her subject matter remained traditional. Most of her paintings are tender portraits of women and children. Cassatt’s admiration for Italian Renaissance paintings, particularly Sandro Botticelli, inspired Mother and Child. The woman’s adoring look and the boy’s sweet face and contrapposto stance suggest images of the Virgin and Child, a connection reinforced by the oval mirror that frames the boy’s head like a halo. Cassatt’s colleague Degas perceived her references to the Renaissance, telling her that the painting “has all of your qualities and all your faults—it’s the Infant Jesus and his English nurse.” The Havemeyers, who purchased the canvas for their collection, referred to it as “The Florentine Madonna.”

Mary Cassatt ~ The Family ~ 1893

Although contemporary critics usually revere Cassatt for her professional life as an artist, many have difficulty accepting the vitality of her paintings. Often absurd interpretations are made of the works to suit postmodern ideological tastes. When I was enrolled in a humanities program I had to endure courses offered such as, “The Great Mother: Archetype or Stereo-Type?” After years of reflection, I have come to the conclusion that the negative reaction to the warm sentiments expressed in art are symptoms of soul murder. The Swiss psychologist Alice Miller had profound insight into understanding the roots of discord in society. She believed the prominent source of violence was caused by the abuse or neglect of children. To deprive the child of his or her own identity and ability to experience joy in life, is to commit soul murder. In her book For Your Own Good, she gives an account of how a mother can nurture a soul:

Once I was sitting on a park bench in a strange city. An old man, who later told me he was eighty-two, sat down beside me. My attention was caught by the attentive and respectful way he spoke to some children playing nearby, and I struck up a conversation with him….His mother “loved life,” he said. Sometimes in the spring she would wake him up in the morning to go with her and listen to the birds singing in the woods before he went to school. These were his happiest memories, When I asked whether he had ever been given beatings, he answered, “Hardly ever; my father’s hand may have slipped occasionally. That made me angry every time, but he never did it in my mother’s presence; she would never have permitted it. But you know,” he went on, “once I was severely beaten by my teacher. In the first three grades, I was the best pupil, then In the fourth we got a new teacher. One, time he accused me of something I hadn’t done. Then he took me aside and started hitting me and kept on hitting, shouting like a madman the whole time, “Now will you tell the truth?’ But how could I? After all, I would have had to lie to satisfy him, and I had never done that before because I had no reason to be afraid of my parents.”

Miller gave the narrative to illustrate how a child who had the good fortune of a mother who by loving life was able to respect her son’s well-being. The old man’s story reflected that since he was held in such esteem by his mother that he was able to express his feelings and was aware of being angry when his teacher beat him and asked him to tell a lie. Children who are less fortunate, are harshly disciplined by their parents without reason or are neglected. The child who lacks confidence in his or her self to make judgments will grow up to accept figures in authority without question. The child will not be aware of his or her feelings as the old man was as a child. Someone who has renounce feelings at a tender age will have loss the ability to experience pleasure, in turn seek to project their aggression onto an object. Such people who lack a love of life can find an outlet for their frustrations by joining an authoritarian collective. Miller saw that institutionalized abusive child-rearing in Germany was necessary for the development of fascism, she wrote,”Every ideology offers its adherents the opportunity to discharge their pent-up affect collectively while retaining the idealized primary object, which is transferred to new leader figures or to the group in order to make up for the lack of a satisfying symbiosis with the mother.”

Mary Cassatt ~ The Caress ~ 1902

An example of the kind academic discourse that surrounds the work of Cassatt can be found in the book Idols of Perversity written by Bram Dijkstra:

“Late nineteenth-century art witnessed a development of the conventional mother-and-child image which directly reflected the new evolutionist dictum that a mother and her children were essentially coextensive and formed a “primitive and natural unity.” These paintings tended to portray a mother and her child, or children, as virtually glued to-gether—jammed into the space of the image as if they were bound together by an almost visible mental and even physical coherence. Sometimes such paintings showed the mother sitting stoically in the center of the image while her brood crawled all over her, sat in her lap, hung on her neck, leaned on her shoulders, and so on, in the fashion of Bouguereau’s Alma Parens. But often, especially in the work of women painters who specialized (as most did) in painting women, this “spiritual conjunction” between woman and child was depicted as if it were a sign of a riveting “intuitive” bond. Many of Mary Cassatt’s works / reflect this specific affectation. For example, her painting Caress shows a mother and her two children, their heads jammed together in such a way that those of the two children and that of their mother seem to have an almost physical bond—as if we have here an entirely new form of Siamese linkage.”

The above passage was taken from the chapter Evolution and the Brain. Dijkstra claims Darwinian theory influenced writers and artists to believe women were less evolved than men, therefore, it was presumed that women should be represented as “brainless” in “their primitive and natural unity”. While there is truth in that Darwin’s bigotry did influence some artists, Thomas Theodor Heine’s painting The Flowers of Evil is a good example, Dijkstra’s reading of Cassatt’s Caress is delusional. I see Caress as an intimate portrait of a mother with two children which may have been inspired by Renaissance paintings of the Madonna. I do not see a portrait with ” heads jammed together” that was painted by Cassatt to appeal to Darwinian ideology which perceived women as “brainless” creatures. Because I had the good fortune to have a loving mother I am able to experience the work without resentment.

Mary Cassatt ~ Mother and Child (Baby Getting Up from His Nap) ~ 1899

Miller believed sanctioned abusive child rearing creates a psychological state in which fascism can prosper. However, I tend to think that the neglect of children is the prominent issue. Ashley Montagu studied the tactile behavior in different cultures and found the contact within families of the United States and Great Britain was much less than in other cultures. The conclusion of the studies was that the amount of contact and expression of love American mothers give their babies and young children was not adequate for their physiological and emotional needs. The mothers observed in a study were more concerned with controlling the behavior of their children then giving affection. Montagu thought that a higher degree of closeness within the family beginning with the mother-child affection would help Americans to feel more anchored in the family. He concluded his book Touching with the following passage:

“The contemporary American family constitutes only too often – an institution for the systematic production of mental illness in each of its members, as a consequence of its concentration on making each of them a “success.” Which, in practice, means that the individual is gradually converted into a device with a built-in design for achievement in accordance with the prevailing requirements, entailing the suppression of emotion, the denial of love and friendship, the ability to trade with whatever serves one for a conscience, while conveying an unvarying appearance of rectitude. Towards this end, parents feel that they -must not give their children “too much” affection, even in the reflex and affectionate stages when children, so much in need of it, literally cannot receive too much affection.”

Mary Cassatt ~ The Crochet Lesson ~ 1913

It should not be a surprise that soul starved individuals who never experienced the necessary level of love from their parents would be swept into postmodern deconstruction to assault tradition and the family. Miller recognized how Hitler was able to manipulate the hatred for the Jews for his own purposes. In our time, technopoly is manipulating a soul starved society’s hatred of the family for its own ends. Current postmodern agendas seem to have a predecessor in the writing of B.F. Skinner who thought autonomous man was a construct which must be abolished for civil order to be maintained in society. Such a program can only be described as fascist. A friend just recommended Wilhelm Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism, it appears Reich supports my argument.

To counteract this destructive trend could not be more difficult. We live in a post-historical age in which people are narcotized by the mass media present. Western culture is rapidly losing touch with its symbols for expression. The only solution I see is to respect the expressions of eternal, ageless, human themes in culture before they are lost.

Mary Cassatt ~ The Long Gloves ~ 1889



Flying Baby with Weapons?

Bruce Tinsley ~ Mallard Fillmore ~ 2018

I came across this comic by Bruce Tinsley that makes humor of the current state of hyperconsciousness which is alienated from cultural traditions. Much of the ugliness in current culture is due to this impoverished state of mind. In the 19th century no one would think twice about an image of Cupid. The comic is rather in insightful in showing how the media can manipulate perception and how that perception can effect individuals’ lives. Cupid should not be forced to find a new line of work and neither should artists.

Luigi Bienaimé: Cupid Feeding Doves

Luigi Bienaimé (1795-1878) was an Italian Neoclassical sculptor. Bienaimé’s family was originally from Belgium, but he was born in Carrara on March 4, 1795. Bienaimé started his studies at the Carrara Academy. Thanks to a grant from the same institution, to complete his education, he moved to Rome (1818), where he studied in the studio of Bertel Thorvaldsen. Bienaimé remained in Rome permanently until his death.

Bienaimé was commissioned a number of works by the Russian court in St Peterberg, including a Marriage for the Czar, a Bacchante dancing, a Diana surprised, and a Psyche abandoned by Love. Several of Bienaimé’s sculptures are in the collection of the Hermitage.

Luigi Bienaimé ~ Cupid Feeding Doves

I believe Bienaimé’s Cupid Feeding Doves is the most imaginative of his works. The subject is not refered to in James Hall’s Dictionary of Subjects & Symbols in Art and I am not aware of any other artist who had depicted the charming narrative. The cup Cupid holds may signify divine love. Celestial Venus holds a similar cup in Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love.

Unfortunately, none of my web searches for the work gave the date of its creation.

Cupid Feeding Doves ~ Villa Carlotta

When I was searching for images of Cupid Feeding Doves, I discovered that the Villa Carlotta in Northern Italy has a copy. Today the Villa Carlotta hosts civil weddings.



Pierre Auguste Cot

Pierre Auguste Cot ~ The Storm ~ 1880

Pierre Auguste Cot (1837 – 1883) was a talented French academic who is best known for his sensitive paintings of young couples. He studied under Leon Cogniet, Alexandre Cabanel and William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Cot enjoyed the patronage of the academic sculptor Francisque Duret, whose daughter he married, and of Bouguereau, with whom he had also worked. Bouguereau painted a portrait of Cot’s daughter, Gabrielle. Cot was renowned for several works, including Le Printemps, featuring two young lovers sitting upon a swing, and The Storm. Both these paintings are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Art Seminars advertisement c.1960

Nearly twenty years ago, I came to know Cot’s work from an Art Seminars advertisement I found in an old Post magazine. Cot’s painting The Storm was compared with a painting by Oskar Kokoschka with the agenda of “cultivating” a person to tell if art is good or bad. Obviously, the intention of the authors was to condition a person to have the modern sensibilities which are indifferent to the expression of Cot’s work. Although there has been a renewed interest in Romantic art in recent times, the appreciation is usually superficial. The work tends to be viewed at a historical distance, not as a work which expresses essential values which have been impoverished in our time. The simple fact is, our Babelized civilization is doing away with what Francis Schaeffer called the “mannishness” of man.

Pierre Auguste Cot ~ Le Printemps ~ 1873

Although most bloggers I encounter blame Christians for being hostile to sexuality in art, I find that history tells an other story. The 19th Century was last period in which culture was still rooted in a theocracy view, beautiful sensual art still had ground to be nurtured. With the industrial revolution, a technopoly conscious began to emerge which a one-sided emphasis on technology. As Erich Fromm said,”Having lost the religious faith and the humanistic values bound with it, he concentrated on technical and material values and lost the capacity for deep emotional experiences, for the joy and sadness that accompany them.” The Modernism which emerged in the early 20th century was an absurd form of materialist asceticism which denies the fullness of being human.

Pierre Auguste Cot ~ Bather

The Last Jedi: Wars Not Make One Great

Vice Admiral Holdo in The Last Jedi

When Celestial Venus was created, I never thought it would be involved in Jedi apologetics. Although The Last Jedi may be the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy in terms of entertainment, the values embedded in the film and the images promoting the film are in conflict with George Lucas’ original universe. While the original Star Wars was a great manifestation of the counter-culture, The Last Jedi reflects the ideology of technocracy.

LUH 3417 in THX1138

Besides the obvious opposition to the Vietnam War, in its essence the counter-culture of the 1960’s was a reaction to the unrestricted advance of technocracy. The rationality of technocracy marginalized the humanist values of the individual in favor of values of the state. Progress becomes fascist when it is pursued for its own sake. Lucas’ early films are definitely counter-cultural documents about the individual trying to break free from a consumerist, conformist order. His first film, THX1138 (1971) reflects a profound insight into the forms of alienation in a future society. THX1138 is a chilling depiction of a post-gender society living in a sterilized minimalist world. Life has become standardized to the point that everyone wears white suits and has a shaved head. Since sexual intimacy in no way reflects the needs of the state, sex has become illegal by the arbitrary law of the state.

I find your lack of faith disturbing

A relevant issue which needs be understood, which Star Wars beautifully illustrates, the expression “tear it all down” was aimed at the Death Star, not tradition. The original counter-culture was not counter tradition but was acting to restore the Old Republic. In Star Wars, the Death Star symbolizes the threat of destruction possible by the unrestricted progress of technocracy. What is interesting, a vivid argument against the value of technocracy is actually made by Darth Vader in a confrontation with an Imperial Admiral. Even though Vader is “more machine than man, twisted and evil,” he still knows the Force is greater than anything man can create.

Admiral Motti: Any attack made by the Rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they’ve obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe! I suggest we use it.
Darth Vader: Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Admiral Motti: Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, [Vader walks toward Motti, then slowly raises his hand] or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebels’ hidden fort— [Motti grasps his throat as he is being choked]
Darth Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

CGI Yoda

When Luke meets Yoda in the Empire Strikes he tells him he is “looking for a great warrior”, Yoda rebukes his claim with, “Wars not make one great.” Thought out his teaching Yoda makes it clear that, “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” The promotional images for Empire Strikes Back always show him standing calmly with his rustic cane. When the second trilogy was promoted with images of CGI Yoda with an angry brow and his lightsaber drawn, I could not help but notice how the images conflicted with Yoda’s Jedi teaching. The creators of the new films really missed the point.

Yin Yang

Lucas was influenced by Eastern religions to develop the idea of the Force, “A energy field created by all living things that binds the galaxy together.” Of the eastern teachings, the Force is apparently inspired by the Tao Te Ching.(the central Taoist text, ascribed to Lao-tzu). Taoism uses the concept polarity of the yin yang in the same way the Force is light and dark. The yin and yang are male and female which cannot exist without one another. The yin and yang balance each other and maintain harmony in the universe. The black part of the symbol represents the calmer and cooler female Yin. The idea that women are passive is not just a white male concept! The principal of the relationship of the yin yang is:

YANG protects YIN
YIN nurtures YANG

Poe Dameron in The Last Jedi

A recurring plotline which runs through The Last Jedi has Finn and Poe Dameron who act with the best intentions for the Resistance, only to find failure and scorn from women acting as technocratic authorities. For example, at the beginning of the film, the Resistance is evacuating their base while Poe Dameron in a single X-Wing holds off the First Order’s assault. He ignores General Leia’s orders to return to the Resistance fleet, instead he leads an attack of bombers to bring down an entire dreadnought ship. Poe is demoted by Leia because the bombers suffered heavy loses. Yet the bomber sequence seems unconvincing, I agree with the comment of Nick Gazin,”The Rebels have been at war for many decades and they haven’t learned to fly far enough apart so they wouldn’t blow each other up?”

Besides the bomber scene there are several other scenes in which Finn and Poe Dameron act by remaining true to themselves yet fail. This is actually the very opposite of a theme that’s common in Sci-fiction action films. Often maverick individuals in lower positions disobey orders by misdirected authorities for the best intentions of their comrades. They usually save the day. But in the The Last Jedi, the theme is reversed, it seems that whenever Poe sets out to solve unaddressed problems, his endeavors fail only for him to be disciplined by the female Vice Admiral Holdo. Since the advancement of women in positions of authority is considered a great achievement of our society any criticism will be regarded as retrograde. But is there something more to this?

The psychologist Alice Miller discovered the personality for fascism to prosper was found in a society which had been conditioned to the notion that authority is always correct. Miller wrestled the with question of how Germans could have carried out Hitler’s “final solution” of murdering millions of Jews,”the men and women who carried out “the final solution” did not let their feelings stand in their way for the simple reason that they had been raised from infancy not to have any feelings of their own but to experience their parents’ wishes as their own. These were people who, as children, had been proud of being tough and not crying, of carrying out all their duties “gladly,” that is, at bottom, of not having an inner life at all.”

I read a few reviews of The Last Jedi which claim the plotlines for Finn and Poe are redundant or poorly written. Honestly, how difficult would it have been to write them into some heroic action? Many authors and scholars have warned that the media can be used as a tool of manipulation, I’m certain that the plotlines of Poe and Finn were constructed to condition boys to believe authority is always correct and they should not trust their feelings, in other words, to have the orientation for fascism to prosper.

Rey in The Last Jedi

Star Wars was a franchise which has been obviously marketed to a young male audience. So it goes against common sense as far as marketing goes to have Rey in the lead role of the new films. It was bad enough for the second trilogy to be promoted with images of a ticked off CGI Yoda, now we have angry Rey with a lightsaber drawn. I’m certain that the violence which plagues our culture is a result of the technocratic conscience which rejects the yin, the value of the feminine. The yin and yang are forbidden by the postmodern culture to balance each other and the result has been complete chaos. Which goes without saying, I’m not impressed by the join the Death Star feminism reflected in The Last Jedi. Women are being conditioned to be as Miller said to be “proud of being tough and not crying, of carrying out all their duties “gladly,” that is, at bottom, of not having an inner life at all.” I’m sure that Yoda  would find it absurd for women submit to technocratic progress. Since as he said, “wars not make one great.”

Princess Leia and R2 D2 in Star Wars: A New Hope

Ernest Hébert: Virgin and Child

Antoine Auguste Ernest Herbert ~ Virgin and Child

For the Christmas season I’ll focus on paintings of the Virgin and Child by the French academic painter Antoine Auguste Ernest Hébert (1817 – 1908). Although Hébert moved to Pairs to study law in 1835, he was a child prodigy in painting. He had painted accomplished portraits a year earlier at the age of seventeen. He was pupil first of David Augers and then Paul Delaroche but he was mostly a self-taught artist. He won the coveted Grand Prix de Rome at the age of twenty-two.

Antoine Auguste Ernest Herbert ~ The Virgin in Paradise

Of Hébert’s paintings of the Virgin, the most unusual is his painting The Virgin in Paradise. The Virgin’s turban and ornate clothes give her the appearance of an Arabian princess. Mary is usually depicted sitting on a throne above the clouds when she is in the company of cherubs. Herbert’s depiction of her in paradise is very original.

Antoine Auguste Ernest Hebert ~ Vierge au Rouge Gorge ~ 1880(detail)

Herbert employed many conventions to represent the halos of Mary and Christ. In some paintings, the halo is rendered as a gold disk which was a tradition of Byzantine icons. While in others works the halo is painted as a thin gold ring which was common during the Renaissance. A less common convention, (I found few examples in Sally Fisher’s The Square Halo) was to render the halo as beams of light coming from behind the head. This is a detail of Herbert’s striking painting Vierge au Rouge Gorge. The somber expression of Mary’s face contrasted with the radiant beams of light complicate the mood of the painting.

Antoine Auguste Ernest Hebert ~ Vierge-au-rouge-gorge ~ 1880

Ernest Hébert ~ Madonna with Christ Child and a Boy ~ 1892

Despite the fact that those with a postmodern sensibility consider images of the Virgin and Child to be aesthetically or politically retrograde, I believe the absence of the Virgin and Child symbol is at the root of the violence and confusion in our culture. The iconoclasm of the Reformation removed the Virgin from the iconography of the church which ultimately had the effect of marginalizing the values of motherhood. This had a disastrous effect on culture. The psychologist Alice Miller discovered the roots of violence in child-rearing, she wrote,”Until the general public becomes aware that countless children are subjected to soul murder everyday and society as a whole must suffer as a result, we are groping in a dark labyrinth.”

Antoine Auguste Ernest Herbert ~ The-Virgin-in Paradise (detail)




Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret

Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret ~ Consolatrix Afflictorum

Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret (1852 – 1929), was one of the leading French artists of the naturalist school. He was one of the first artists to use photography to bring greater realism to his paintings. Like Paul Gauguin, he was draw to Brittany to paint the piety of the of the region’s peasants. Dagnan-Bouveret’s conventions and techniques appealed both to traditional and modern critics. The narratives of pious figures appealed to more conservative critics, while liberal critics could interpret the naturalism of his works as aspects of a post-Courbet anti-Academic art. The interest in his realist Breton paintings has left his mystical-religious paintings neglected but I am just as impressed by his archetypal religious compositions.

Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret ~ Bretons Praying

Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret ~ A Woman from Bern Switzerland ~ 1887

Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret ~ An Orphan in Church ~ 1880

Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret ~ Madonna of the Rose ~ 1885

Pascal-Adolphe-Jean-Dagnan-Bouveret ~ Sancta Genovefa

Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret ~ Le Sauveur


Bruno Piglhein

Bruno Piglhein ~ Christmas Morning ~ ca. 1890

Bruno Piglhein (1848-1894) was German sculptor and painter I came to know by Bram Dijkstra’s book Idols of Perversity. I referred to Dijkstra’s book in a previous post on the Pre-Raphaelites. While Idols of Perversity is a great source of information, Dijkstra’s interpretation of art is most often absurd due to political agendas. Instead of attempting to understand the art works in terms of the period in which they created, Dijkstra imposes notions of oppression into the art works. For example, Piglhein’s Christmas Morning is accompanied by the text, “Thus a genre was born in which crass child pornography disguised itself as a tribute to the ideal of innocence, and even children fell victim to man’s fearful retreat from woman who knew too much about the sins of the flesh.” Frist of all, Piglhein’s sleeping child is as innocent as the Christ child and cherubs which appear in hundred of Renaissance paintings, therefore it’s certainly not crass child pornography. Second, Dijkstra imposes post modern feminist ideology of gender in order to tarnish the experience of the work.

Bruno Piglhein ~ Star of Bethlehem

Why would Dijkstra do this? The agendas of many within the art-historical establishment can be compared to the Red Guards of China. In 1966, Mao Zedong mobilized a student movement during China’s Cultural Revolution. The ruling elite saw traditional culture as a threat to its power, if cultural artifacts were considered to represent one of the Four Olds, they were to be destroyed. Historic sites were assaulted and religious texts and figures were confiscated and burned. In the West, the attack on tradition is not carried out physically on culture but rather psychologically. Actual artifacts are not physically destroyed, instead the Babel Guard attempts to destroy the experience of culture. It may seem progressive to reject “Euro-centrism” in the name tolerance and sympathy for other cultures but the inability to enjoy warm sentiments expressed in romantic art reflects a hardness of heart which undercuts the very possibility of progress and humane values. Beautiful painting which manifest values to resist the state are interpreted as a form of oppression so that one is estranged from the foundation an authentic self which can resist the political agendas of the elite.

Bruno Pighein

Bruno ~ The Blind Woman in a Poppy Field

Paul Édouard Rosset-Granger

Paul Édouard Rosset-Granger (1853 –1934) was a talented French academic artist who is not well-known today. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Alexander Cabanel, Edouard Louis Dubufe and Allexis-Joseph Mazerolle. Rosset-Granger’s works benefited from his familiarity with Bouguereau but are different in how he incorporated figures in landscapes. His compositions are comparable to Maxfield Parrish. He lived well in the 20th century working as an illustrator for the press and publishing houses. A wordpress site (in French) dedicated to him can be found here.

Paul Edouard Rosset-Granger ~ La Charmeuse ~ 1883

Paul Edouard Rosset-Granger ~ Orphée ~ 1884

Paul Edouard Rosset-Granger ~ Ophelie ~ 1889

Paul Edouard Rosset Granger ~ Hide and Seek ~ 1890

Paul Edouard Rosset-Granger ~ Etude ~ 1878