February 20, 2011

Positive Portrayals of Sex in Art: Pompeiian Fresco

This image was painted on a bedroom wall in Pompeii and it was buried when Vesuvius erupted. It appears to be an inter-racial couple and there is evidence to suggest that the figures are intended to be Pygmalion and Galatea. In the Greek myth, Pygmalian was a Cypriot sculptor who did not think the women he saw in the world were good enough, so he carved a perfect woman out of ivory. Falling in love with the statue, he asked Venus to make her real and she granted his wish. Apparently the feeling was mutual!

1 comment:

  1. I think you may have meant Polyphemus and Galatea. Although Galatea never requited the love Polyphemus had for her, or so I seem to remember from Ovid's rendering of the story, I believe this is what it is generally accepted to be a depiction of. Certainly, the visual markers points suggest this with the inclusion of typical attributes such as the club and the ram (just cropped off at the left) etc.

    Really enjoying the blog.

    Martin Hill