As Erastes’ post on Gay Historical Art is consistently our most popular post to date I thought I would do a follow on with some of my own favourites.
Clicking on past the cut indicates that you are old enough in your own country to see images of nudity and some sexual content.
This is an Attic red-figure kylix, made in about 500 BC, which shows Achilles tending Patroclus who has been wounded by an arrow. (There is an inscription at the top of the vase which tells you who the characters are.) I’m a real sucker for the story of Achilles and Patroclus anyway. I can’t help but think that Achilles is being all bratty and juvenile about refusing to fight, and Patroclus going out there, knowing he’s probably not coming back alive, but doing it because it’s the only way to snap Achilles out of it and avert disaster feels to me more heroic than anything anyone else in the poem does.
I really like the tenderness of this one, and it’s interesting to think that Patroclus is the erastes of this relationship and Achilles is the eromenos. I didn’t expect that, somehow, given that Achilles is so clearly the great big hero of the two, but I guess it makes a lot of sense. Great big hero or not, he acts like a surly boy, and Patroclus acts like a responsible adult – and in the process enables Achilles to act like a warrior and find his own glory.
This one is an Etruscan wall painting from the tomb of the bulls in Tarquinia
Which, according to Wikimedia is a picture of “Hercules having sex with another man when a bull appears with the face of Achelous to fight him.” It’s probably very mean of me to find this one funny, it’s just, isn’t it always the same? You snatch a moment for some alfresco loving, and right then you have to get interrupted by a mad bull with a man’s face. Every single time! It also amuses me that headcloth-man is clearly keeping an eye peeled for trouble, but is looking in exactly the wrong direction.
He has apparently turned up to fight with Hercules for the hand of Deianeira, daughter of a king of Calydon, which to my modern sensibilities seems like even more ironic timing.
Slightly more up to date, this is Bathers at San Niccolo by Domenico Cresti (called Passignano)
Snaffled from the wonderful website of the Androphile Project
I love this one for the adoring look on the face of the guy in the middle. The whole thing reminds me a bit of Hylas and the Nymphs, which I also love. The same sense of a temptation which is so beautiful that it would be wrong to resist, even if it lead to death.
Another one from the Androphile project website is this early nineteenth century engraving entitled “Ah my dear, how wild you are.”:
Which is another one that makes me laugh. There’s a whole book in here, I suspect. And are the ladies timing them, or just rolling their eyes and wondering if they’re going to be made late for the ball?
It was very hard to pick a favourite of Henry Scott Tuke’s paintings. Eventually I went for this one because it reminds me of my latest book – the kind of endless, drowsy-hot Cornish summer that’s almost too perfect to be real.
But they’re all very beautiful, and you can find a whole gallery of them here, which earns extra points from me by starting with a tall ship 🙂