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Shady Ladies Tours
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Why were high foreheads once considered a sign of beauty? - This painting portrays Saint Justina of Padua as a Renaissance fashion plate. The pearls, rubies, and emeralds sewn onto her clothing, cap, and hair tie were the mark of an aristocratic lady; her embroidered stomacher (the triangular piece covering chest and stomach) was the height of fashion, as were her elegant green sleeves (as in [ ] The post Why were high foreheads once considered a sign of beauty? appeared first on New York City Art Museum Tours.
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Who are the elegant women in the museum’s portraits? - When people look at the elegant portraits in art museums, they assume they are looking at dukes and duchesses. But often enough, they aren t. They are looking at mistresses, illegitimate sons, kept boys, and courtesans. Courtesans are a particularly large theme in art. What is a courtesan? A kind of sex worker, but a sex [ ] The post Who are the elegant women in the museum s portraits? appeared first on New York City Art Museum Tours.
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The feminist concept of the “male gaze” - The feminist concept of the male gaze is useful in art criticism. The concept originally comes from film studies, where it is used to discuss the fact that men traditionally controlled the camera, of which women were an object. Men certainly also controlled the brush through most of the history of Western painting, and the [ ] The post The feminist concept of the male gaze appeared first on New York City Art Museum Tours.
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Courtesans of Paris tour—in the cemetery! - One of my favorite things to do in Paris—really—is explore the cemeteries. The most famous one is Père Lachaise, where a host of celebs are buried, including most famously Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. But it is also a great place for learning about the great courtesans of the Belle Epoque. As an example, Chopin [ ] The post Courtesans of Paris tour—in the cemetery! appeared first on New York City Art Museum Tours.
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This is a #tour about feisty women who broke the rules. Flaunting convention, they reached for power and influence, and shaped the culture and politics of their day. People call them “nasty women,” but they still admire them. And along the way they became the subjects of great works of art—many of them on display at the Met. #sexyarttours #guidedtours #nastywomen #womenshistory For more info and to book: bit.ly/2kMS8Rx
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Courtesans, royal mistresses, scandalous women of every sort—the walls of the Metropolitan Museum are lined with them, from ancient Greek hetaerae to Sargent’s Madame X. These women, famous not only for sex-appeal but also for their talents—and for a spirit which today we would call 'entrepreneurial'— fascinated both their wealthy patrons and the artists who created the world's great masterpieces. But who were they? How did they rise to their positions? And how did they maintain their prominence despite their scandalous reputations?
Get tickets -bit.ly/1Sn2DGO

*Ticket price includes museum admission. Advanced purchase necessary. Discounts available for seniors, students, and Met members.*

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As Professor Lear prepares out new tour, Scandalous Seductions at the Metropolitan (about the intersection of sex and scandal and art), we're reviewing a lot of great pieces in the museum. Take this portrait by François Gérard of Princess Catherine de Talleyrand. Is there a hint of raciness about the painting? Perhaps. There is a long tradition of women reading and writing letters in painting, but it is generally only love letters that they read and write. Her wistful expression could reflect this, and the symbolism of her surroundings could be even more clearly suggestive, in particular the single, distinctly phallic andiron sticking up from the flames behind her. Could this be a reference to the flames of passion? This might all seem far-fetched, but the princess was in fact a scandalous person. She had been a courtesan before her acquaintance with Talleyrand, and his mistress for several years before Napoleon forced them to get married. And her general reputation (quite possibly unfair) was for being sexy and stupid. So it's not impossible that the painter wanted to portray her as sexy. In fact, the only question is: wouldn't Talleyrand (who presumably paid for the painting) and the princess have noticed, and if so, would they have been pleased with that?

To find out more about this and other pieces like it, come on the Shady Ladies tours! For tickets and info, see: shadyladiestours.com/take-the-shady-ladies-tours
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One of the things that always surprises us is that people don't think Dutch painting of the Golden Age is about sex. Really? I guess that's because Dutch artists didn't paint a lot of nudes. Or maybe it is because Rembrandt, with his psychologically complex portraits, dominates our view of Dutch painting. But if you look at the Dutch galleries of the Met, you'll find that courtship, love letters, and wild parties are among the biggest themes. They didn't have courtesans, so the Shady Ladies tour doesn't go there—but that's not because they didn't have prostitution!—just because the kind of aristocratic devil-may-care spending that maintained the courtesans of Venice, Paris, or London was not typical of the relatively egalitarian Netherlands. But the Scandalous Seductions tour will go to those galleries, we promise, to see paintings like this Frans Hals (1616-1617) painting of "Shrovetide Revelers." Would it help if we changed the name from to something more modern, like "The Mardi Gras Party?" Surely, there's nothing sexless about Hals' scene!
The two men leaning on the "maiden" in the middle are pretty suggestive: the one on the left in particular is making an obscene gesture, which we won't bother to explain. And the bowl of distinctly phallic sausages (which are also hanging in a string over the other man's shoulder) underline its meaning, as does the bagpipe on the table. But let's look at the "maiden" whom they are propositioning, with her elaborate dress. Look at "her" stubby hands and thick neck. Is that a girl, or is it just a thick-set Dutch boy, rouged and dressed up for Mardi Gras? We leave you to decide, but in any case there's nothing sexless about this painting!

To learn more, come on the Shady Ladies tours! For more info and tickets, see: http://www.shadyladiestours.com/take-the-shady-ladies-tours/
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If your in the New York City area Join Us On Our Women's Art History Tour of the Metropolitan Museum On January 29th. We have several tours weekly. www.shadyladiestours.com
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