Throwback Thursdays Art – w/ Update!

Throwback Thursdays Art – w/ Update!

Every Thursday, as part of my personal “enriched environment” initiative, I post a piece of art, usually from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which recently released online some 400,000 high-resolution images of its collection.  All artwork will show a sun (or sunlight) somewhere. 

I won’t name the piece or the artist, but instead invite you to study the art and post a comment addressing one or more of these questions:

  • What is going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can you find?

If you have another idea, run with it.

Special Update!  The New York Times website does this same exercise every Monday with a news photo that is uncaptioned and contains no text (click!).  The Times asks viewers the same three questions:

  • What is going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can you find?

However, at the end of the week, the Times posts the background information on the picture.  So, I’ve decided to do the same.  I’ll still post an unlabeled piece of art on Thursday.  But return on Sunday (for the Sunny Sundays post!) and you’ll find an update on the artwork here.

Note:  To embiggen the image, click on it! 

Diana and Actaeon (Diana Surprised in Her Bath)

Artist:  Camille Corot (French, Paris 1796–1875 Paris)

Date:  1836

Medium:  Oil on canvas

Dimensions:  61 5/8 x 44 3/8 in. (156.5 x 112.7 cm)

Classification:  Paintings

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 957

From its imposing size to its refined execution, this painting is elegant testimony to Corot’s ingenuity: the landscape appears surprisingly natural, yet it is painstakingly composed. The narrative, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, recounts the fate of a young hunter Actaeon as he encounters the naked figure of the goddess Diana and her nymphs enjoying a woodland bath. Diana, in a fit of embarrassed fury, splashes water on the unwitting hunter, transforming him into a deer.
There is a marked difference between the general tight handling of paint and tonal contrasts, and the background on the left, which is sketchy and silvery in tone, typical of Corot’s late style. A year before the artist died, he was asked to repaint this passage as a courtesy to the picture’s new owner.

About The Author: Bruce


  1. Afua Afriye

    Are you posting this picture in response to the Manchester Art Gallery’s removal of a similar picture of young naked women bathing in a stream and supposedly seducing a man they see? In this picture here, it seems the women are suddenly spotted by a man who’s running by – although it looks like he has antlers growing out of his head so maybe this is a mythological picture. By the way, in terms of sunlight, the most sunlight seems to be behind the hill in the center of the painting, yet the women’s bodies are all glowing white as if they were their own source of light, as if the light is coming from within them.

  2. Duane

    This painting is so tall and thin, and all the action seems to be taking place down in the bottom center of the picture. Much of the landscape is dark but the women’s bodies, at least many of them, are glowing like glowworms. But I also notice the white birch tree rising up straight and tall in the center of the painting, too. What’s that supposed to symbolize ?

  3. Chris Tempe

    I, too, notice the white birch tree rising straight up in the middle of the picture, and the dark background for most of the picture except for the far left, where we can see the sunlit sky coming around the side of the mountain. The man with the antlers seems to be holding a stick, it’s held horizontally – is he herding a bunch of animals that we don’t see? I also see some poles and other accoutrements on the ground next to where the women are sitting. What are those?
    Is this supposed to be another scene from a mythological tale?
    I also am aware of the museum in England that removed a similar painting of naked young women bathing in a pond and enticing a young man to join them. The museum was trying to force discussion of the depiction of young female nudes in traditional Western, especially European, art. In the history of Western art, how much did nudes of young women predominate over nudes of young males? Was this consistent over the centuries? And did it contribute to objectifying women in general?

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