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Eve, Venus, the Power of Woman, and the Image of the Witch

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The mother of humanity, Eve is 'responsible' for pain in childbirth, human toil, and mortality. ... the left, but also as a lesson for the Renaissance bride ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Eve, Venus, the Power of Woman, and the Image of the Witch


1
Eve, Venus, the Power of Woman, and the Image
of the Witch
2
The Place of Eve in the Genesis Myth
  • There are two versions of the Genesis story, one
    more egalitarian (God created man in his own
    image . . . Male and female he created them.
    (Gen I27).
  • However, the longer version of the story, which
    subordinates Eve by making her derive from Adams
    rib, predominated (Gen. II 18-25).
  • Eve is beguiled by the serpent to eat the
    forbidden fruit curiosity, gullibility, desiring
    food and visual pleasure, and the ability to
    persuade Adam into eating the fruit (Gen.
    III1-6). Eve sees that the fruit is good for
    food and a delight to the eye. (6)
  • While Adam is punished by having to till the
    earth, Eve is given desire for her husband, yet
    pain in childbirth.
  • The ambiguity of Eve she disobeyed God, but
    under the persuasion of the serpent. The mother
    of humanity, Eve is responsible for pain in
    childbirth, human toil, and mortality.
  • Eves actions are negated by Mary Mary as a
    second Eve, as Christ is a second Adam, promising
    resurrection that remedies the mortality caused
    by the Fall in Genesis.

3
Hugo van der Goes Fall of Man and Lamentation
Diptych, c. 1475 (Bruges) illustrates the
relationship between the Fall and the
Crucifixion, Adam and Christ, Eve and Mary.
4
In the Renaissance, the perception of evil
(numbers and powers of demons) in the world grew.
Boschs Haywain Triptych, 1500-05 (Prado) shows
a relentless movement from Eden to Hell.
The hay wagon is the corrupt world, full of vice.
At the left, Paradise is seeded with evil as the
rebel angels fall from heaven.
5
The fall of the rebel angels is alluded to in
Isaiah XIV and in the Book of Revelation XII, it
becomes part of the war between good and evil in
the end times. Women, less rational, more
sensual, weak and gullible, were more susceptible
to demonic influence and control.
6
The grotesque, hybrid forms of the fallen
angels symbolize evil. Grotesque forms in
art may be an aesthetic choice for artists,
signifying their imaginative prowess, but they
also have moral implications grotesque forms
from the imagination needed to be controlled by
the rational mind of the (male) artist.
7
The left wing of Boschs Garden of Earthly
Delights (Madrid, 1510-15), shows an Eden that is
already being corrupted by hybrid, deformed
animals. That evil explodes into sexuality in the
central panel and culminates in hell.
8
In Boschs Paradise, corruption is already
apparent as the couple is introduced to each
other, sexual desire awakens, and deformed
creatures crawl, walk, or fly across an exotic
landscape. An evil owl peeps out from a
grotesque, flesh-pink growth in the central
pond.
9
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10
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11
Dürers 1504 engraving of Adam and Eve depicts
spiritual and psychological harmony the moment
before the Fall. The four humors or temperaments
(symbolized by animals) are balanced. In the
distance a goat (symbol of the devil) is about to
jump off a cliff. Dürer treats Adam and Eve
equally, but Eves actions might also be
interpreted as the root of womans nature
disruptive, sensual, and irrational, especially
as the fear of demons increased in the sixteenth
century.
12
Dürers 1505 Adam and Eve panels in the Prado
also suggest the state of innocence before the
Fall but with erotic overtones. In the
sixteenth century, some artists emphasized Adam
and Eves sexual desire before the Fall. St.
Augustine (4th-5th c) thought that Adam and Eve
did have sex before the Fall but it was under the
control of reason (!) In his essay on original
sin (c. 1530), Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim
wrote that the serpent stood for the penis
sexual desire was the cause of the Fall.
13
Baldungs 1525 parody of Dürers 1505 panels (in
Budapest) focuses on this idea.
14
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15
Baldungs woodcut of 1511 reduces the Fall to the
sexual drive. Only the rabbits, symbolizing the
lusty, sanguine temperament, are present. Adam
reaches for an apple and Eves breast.
16
Baldungs Eve, Death, and The Serpent in Ottawa,
late 1520s, conflates the themes of Death and
the Maiden with The Fall of Man and focuses on
Eves sexual drive as the cause of the Fall.
17
1517, Basel. Death kisses the voluptuous
maiden sensuality is cut short by death.
18
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19
Eve, driven by her mindless lust, strokes the
serpent suggestively. Adam tries to stop her but
is in turn bitten by the serpent the knot of
sexual desire and death.
20
The idea is very much like that of Niklaus Manuel
Deutschs monochrome painting of a prostitute and
soldier--identified by his slit breeches. As he
reaches for her genitals, he dies before our
eyes, most likely consumed by syphilis, becoming
prevalent in the early 16th c. In the distance
is a statue of Venus. (1517, Basel)
21
Venus, Goddess of Fertility and Love in Antiquity
  • Often provided a vehicle for eroticized images of
    the female nude, such as this one by Cranach, c.
    1530, in Frankfurt.
  • In early modern Christian culture, Venus was
    often seen as evil, even demonic.
  • To assimilate her to Christianity, she had to be
    sanitized, reinterpreted.

22
Agnolo Bronzinos Allegory of Luxury, 1540s,
London, probably painted for Cosimo deMedici as
a gift for King Francis I. Venus and Cupid
kiss while Time exposes them and Folly pelts them
with Roses. Fraud with a serpents tail is
behind Folly Envy (or syphilis?) shrieks at the
far left. Venus is evil and associated with
disease.
23
Botticellis Primavera (after 1482, Uffizi),
centered on a Christianized version of Venus,
could be read as an allegory of Neoplatonism,
moving from fleshly pleasure on the right to the
purity of heaven (Mercury pointing upward) on the
left, but also as a lesson for the Renaissance
bride (Lillian Zirpolo).
24
Chloris submits to the advances of the west wind,
Zephyr (as a wife should submit to her husband).
25
As a result of their union, Chloris turns into
the fertile goddess of Spring, Flora (as a wife
should be fertile).
26
In the center of the painting is the
Christianized Venus (Venus Humanitas) who wears
the garb of a modest wife. The Graces to her
left embody the gentility, delicacy, and modesty
appropriate to a wife.
27
Marsilio Ficinos letter to Lorenzo di
Pierfrancesco de Medici on the topic of his
future marriage (1478), related to the
interpretation of Primavera
Venus, that is to say, Humanitas the central
figure. . . Is a nymph of excellent Comeliness,
born of heaven, and more than others beloved by
God all highest. Her soul and mind are love and
charity, her eyes Dignity and Magnaminity, the
hands Liberality and Magnificence, the feet
Comeliness and Modesty. The whole, then, is
Temperance and Honesty, Charm and Splendor. Oh,
what exquisite beauty! . . . My dear Lorenzo, a
nymph of such nobility has been wholly given unto
your hands! If you were to unite with her in
wedlock and claim her as yours, she would make
all your years sweet.
28
Such constructions of the noble wife also
contribute to Renaissance portraits of women,
such as Ghirlandaios posthumous Portrait of
Giovanna Tornabuoni, wife of Lorenzo Tornabuoni,
who died while pregnant in 1488.
(Thyssen-Bornemiza, Madrid). Patricia Simons
Giovanna, is portrayed as an object of display
within male discourse, frozen forever, framed in
profile and with no gaze of her own, as a symbol
of the Tornabuoni, with family jewels and
heraldic emblems on her dress. The
inscription O, art, if Thou were able to depict
the conduct of the soul, no lovelier painting
would exist on earth.
29
The Power of Woman
  • A collection of stories that demonstrated womens
    power over men.
  • This power was based solely on womens ability
    to seduce men.
  • Womens seductive power results in a merely
    temporary suspension of the normal hierarchy of
    power.
  • Examples Hercules and Omphale, Phyllis and
    Aristotle Salome and John the Baptist Samson
    and Delilah. The good woman, Judith, might also
    be included because her beauty conquered a man.

30
In this painting by Frans Francken II (1622,
Getty), one of Solomons pagan concubines
convinces him to worship idols. Thus, even the
wise king (and ancestor of Mary and Christ) could
be fooled by a dangerous woman. This inverts the
story of Catherine and the Philosophers.
31
Rubens Samson and Delilah in London, c. 1609.
In submitting to Delilah (note his helpless
posture), Samson will lose his hair and his
sight.
32
Hans Cranachs Hercules and Omphale (1537,
Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid) and Bartholomeus
Sprangers version in the Kunsthistorisches
Museum, Vienna, c. 1600. Hercules love for
Omphale allowed him to be emasculated by doing
womens work.
33
Cranachs Salome with the Head of John
the Baptist (1530, Vienna) Titians painting of
the same theme (Pamphili, Rome, c. 1515)
34
A bronze aquamanile of Aristotle Phyllis in the
Metropolitan, late 14th century Master MZs
engraving, early 16th c. The father of western
philosophy reduced to playing horsey with a
seductive, domineering woman.
35
Some food for thought. What unites these women?
Eve
Omphale
Witch
Venus
36
How is the beautiful witch related to the
hag-witch? The beauty of some witches is
deceptive they are contaminated by they filth
they handle, the company they keep, and
underneath their exterior lies a hag. The
grotesque body of the hag, understood as a
poison bag (Purkiss) leaking, without clear
boundaries, symbolizing social disorder and the
fear of the overpowering maternal body (in
psychoanalytic terms).
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