Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Penelope (ca. 1868)

Charles-François Marchal: Penelope

This painting and its pendant, Phryne (location unknown), were an immediate success at the Salon of 1868. They are typical of the scenes of fashionable life in Paris that Marchal painted in the decade prior to his suicide.

Penelope is not represented as the legendary wife of Odysseus but as a contemporary woman, dutifully engaged in needlework as she dreams about her husband, portrayed in the miniature before her. By contrast, Phryne was intended as an analogy to the classical Athenian courtesan of the same name. Marchal depicted her in an evening dress, glancing provocatively into her mirror as she completes her toilette. [Metropolitan Museum of Art]

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