John Deare – English, 1785 – 1787 – Venus Reclining on a Sea Monster with Cupid and a Putto
, the goddess of love and beauty, reclines on a fantastic goat-headed sea monster in this allegory of Lust. The goddess entwines her fingers in the creature’s beard–a so-called “chin-chucking” gesture that represents erotic intent–while the monster licks her hand in response. , astride the monster’s long tail, is poised to shoot an arrow at Venus, while in the background a putti adds to the amorous imagery by holding a flaming torch, undoubtedly meant to suggest the burning ardor of desire. The sea goat carries Venus through the frothy waves, carved with energy and precision.
John Deare displayed his great skill in carving a variety of levels and textures in this sculpture, from the low relief of the Cupid and putti to the smooth, half-relief of Venus, and finally to the sea-goat’s fully three-dimensional snout and wavy strands of hair. Deare’s depiction of Lust as a woman riding a goat forms part of an iconographic tradition that has been popular since the Middle Ages.
Gérard-Jean Galle – French, Paris, about 1818 – 1819 – Gilt bronze, enameled metal, glass
A hot air balloon inspired the design of this fanciful chandelier with a blue lacquered globe strewn with gold stars above a glass bowl. The twelve signs of the zodiac wrap around the globe on a gilt bronze band. The maker, Gérard-Jean Galle, fitted the bowl with a plug and explained that it could hold water and small goldfish, “whose continuous movement amuses the eye most agreeably.” When he exhibited the chandelier in 1819, he described it as a lustre à poisson (fish chandelier).
Galle tried to sell this chandelier along with other merchandise to the French King Louis XVIII in 1820. He desperately pleaded that these goods caused “the ruin of my factory and family” and promised that his stock was modestly priced, but the government rejected his offer. Conscious of popular criticism of governmental luxury, the bureaucrats argued that they could not purchase objects that were neither “advantageous nor useful.”
Hans Bol, 1859 – Landscape with the Story of Venus and Adonis
Hans Bol painted this unusualin two parts: the central landscape, painted on mounted on wood, and the framing design, painted directly on wood. Both parts tell the story of the beautiful youth Adonis from . In the main panel, and Adonis embrace before he leaves on the hunt shown in the distance, in which he is killed by a boar. Clockwise from left, the frame’s ovals show subsidiary incidents: mother Myrrha commits incest with her father; turned into the myrrh tree as punishment, Myrrha bears their son, Adonis; Venus is struck with love for Adonis; blood springing from the dead Adonis turns into the anemone flower.
In the frame, Bol combined the cartouches and trophies of a three-dimensional picture frame withborders reminiscent of . His materials–opaque color and gold paint on parchment–also follow the tradition of manuscript illumination.
According to the scholar Shawn Eichman, there are five “dipper” constellations in Daoist astronomy, with the Central Dipper as the leader and the Northern Dipper responsible for removing names from the records of death. In this depiction, the seven star gods of the Central Dipper are shown in the lower register wearing regal robes and crowns, while the nine stars of the Northern Dipper, including two hidden stars, wear less formal robes and occupy the middle register. Eichman identifies the small figure with two attendants at the upper right as the Root Destiny Officer, who descends to earth to accept offerings on the cyclical anniversary of each person’s birth (see Stephen Little with Shawn Eichman, Taoism and the Arts of China [Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 2000], p. 248).
Jake Baddely site: http://www.jakebaddeley.com
And the crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to publish a full colour hardcover book of the paintings by Jake Baddeley on the 12 zodiac signs: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/art-book-of-zodiac-paintings-by-jake-baddeley