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Monday, 14 February 2011

My Last Duchess?


Lucrezia di Cosimo de' Medici (detail): Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo), c. 1555-1565 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence)

That's my last duchess up there on the wall, looking almost
As though she were alive, in a manner of speaking
One might well be hesitant to use
Were one indeed the guilty Duke, as happily one isn't,
One has problems enough already without
The dastardly ducal conduct of Alfonso II d'Este
Being chalked up to one's record. When one thinks of it, wedding
A thirteen year old girl who is your clear social inferior
Strictly to get hold of her whopping dowry,
And then two years later disposing of her
By poisoning -- well, the whole story
Is just about too awful to be true. You'd suspect Robert Browning
Of having made it up, but you know the Nineteenth Century.
Nothing connected with sex and authors is too strange to believe.
There was John Ruskin, who never knew until his wedding night
That women had pubic hair. And it really put him off the entire proposition.

File:Agnolo Bronzino, ritratto di Lucrezia de' Medici.JPG

Lucrezia di Cosimo de' Medici: Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo), c. 1555-1565 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence)

File:John Ruskin by James Northcote.jpg

John Ruskin: James Northcote, before 1831 (National Portrait Gallery)

File:Browning After Death.jpg

Robert Browning After Death: photographer unknown, 1889, from Black & White, 12 December 1891 (?) (Berg Collection, New York Public Library Digital Gallery)


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

"you know the Nineteenth Century.
Nothing connected with sex and authors is too strange to believe."

I love Ruskin - yet, always marvel at how this story could ever be true.

Such are the strange ways of the West,
doomed, as we are, to live in our heads.

TC said...

The prurient speculation and idle gossip concerning Ruskin's famously unconsummated marriage to Effie Gray, and the reasons for the peculiar physical disgust that seems to have overcome him, have provided many a field day for excited "scholars".

It appears that Ruskin's protegé the painter John Everett Millais did not share Ruskin's disgust. After using her as his model in this painting, he married her -- and, happily enough, Effie went on to produce eight children.

Ed Baker said...

John Ruskin is about as good-as-you-can-get

he not only said/wrote about "it" he did/produced "it"

these artists sure knew how to get and keep their Muses.. and their cute girls... too

there was yet another depth to the 19 th century... I think a British mag and I betcha it is en toto on the net aprappoe to "sex and authors" called
The Pearl

and far beyond 19 th Century Europe is across the waters and across the eons Japanese/Asian Shunga

the "stuff" of Picasso and his ..compatriots... who
really did include everything which is forbidden into Public .... view....

"all art (as Picasso has it) is erotic"

everything else (especially via them Surrealists) is either destructive or insipid