Thursday, August 11, 2011


The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is one of my favorite museums in all the world. My hotel was within walking distance, and I visited three times and wondered around until my feet wore out. The galleries in the V&A are manageable and not vast like those of other large museums. And, wonder of wonders, taking pictures is allowed!

Jason - 16th century - Italy - Unknown artist

Virgin and Child - Girolamo Campagna - ca. 1578

(Note: Thanks to Lapin who identified the Apollo and Zephyr statues, shown below, and the Madonna and child, shown above for me.)

Apollo & Zephyr - Pietro Francavilla - 1577

Cupid Kindling the Torch of Hymen - George Rennie - 1831

Peasant Woman Nursing a Baby - Aimé-Jules Dalou - 1873

Crouching Youth - Winifred Turner - ca. 1934

Albert Einstein - Jacob Epstein - 1933

Cupid and Psyche - Auguste Rodin - ca. 1908

I'll post more pictures from the V&A later. One day when I'd decided to revisit the museum, it was raining, but, since I was only a block and a half away from the South Kensington Underground Station, I walked through the tunnel there, at the end of which you arrive inside the museum, not soaking wet.

Picture of the building from Wikipedia.


  1. Very nice!

    "Cupid Kindling the Torch of Hymen - George Rennie - 1831"

    It's strange to me, to think all these 19th century Brits looked for these Classical myths to carve. O_o

    1. Generally they didn't. Most of the Victorian sculptures and art-works of this type were either direct copies of, or inspired by the Roman and Ancient Greek originals which were seen on the 'grand tours' of Europe that young men - and very occasionally women - of 'high' breeding were required to take on completion of their education, in the days when tourism was for the wealthy only; a Victorian 'gap-year' if you will, but one that would last for anything from 2 - 4 years for the richer travellers.

    2. From the late 17thC to the late Victorian period, on completing their formal education the British upper-classes - mainly the men but sometimes ladies - would take the 'Grand-Tour' of Europe, taking with them not only their servants but also artists. When they saw a sculpture or piece of art they liked, the artist would do a detailed sketch and, on returning to Blighty would commission a sculptor to reproduce it in marble.

    3. Acolyte of Sagan, thanks for answering JCF's comment more than a year later, which shows that it's never to late to leave a comment.

  2. JCF, heh, heh. I didn't say that. It was right there on the plaque. :-)

    I chose my photos, in part, with my girl friends and my gay boy friends in mind.

  3. And all these years I've naively assumed, for some reason, that Hymen was female.

  4. I don't remember those statues from the V&A even though I used to walk over there from my father's flat on Upper Devonshire Place :)

  5. Caminante, it had been so long since I'd visited the museum, my memory was hazy about what was there, but all the pics are from my camera. The photos on the V&A's website are copyrighted, so I was delighted to be able to take my photographs.

  6. And why would you think Hymen was female, Lapin? ;-)

  7. Impressive musculature all round :D

  8. Latin classes avoided quite a bit of classical culture back in the 50's, Mimi.

  9. Tho' I do recall a classics master, born in the 1890's, lamenting that the Greeks "were great homosexuals". ("Great" was not used the American, approving sense.)

  10. Quite a lot of culture and history was skipped over in the process of 'educating' young people in those ancient days.

    Lapin, how old were you when the Latin master mentioned the Greeks being 'great homosexuals'? I didn't know the word until some time in high school. But then, I'm older than you.

  11. That's quite unusual to allow picture taking in a museum! Most I've been in here and in Chicago won't allow it. I didn't get to any on my tour of Ireland in April other than the Flying Boat Museum in Shannon and we could take pictures there. Is it just in the States we can't I wonder?

  12. Did you go to the Natural History Museum also?

  13. Ciss, in my experience, most museums do not allow photographs. I was surprised and delighted that the V&A did

    Erp, I didn't go to the NHM. I went three times to the V&A. I should have.

  14. My first, cursory thought as words collided with photo in my scanning was "Cupid cuddling Hymen's what?" Dey's awwwwfully chummy, dere, dem little gods.

    Of course, I knew Hymen couldn't be female - I mean, there was Hymie Weiss, right?

    wv: orappoto - wasn't that that place Ann Radcliffe wrote about?

  15. The problem is, btw, we got a raw deal from the Greeks - they weren't homosexuals, but came from a pan-sexual culture and mindset. It's still found in the Middle East, the ideas of "women-for-breeding-boys-for-fun."

    Men who eschewed marriage and proper son-producing sex for lifelong male companionship - especially companionship of someone socially and chronologically equitable - was considered just as disgusting, perverse, and unnatural to ancient Greeks as to John Chrysostom.

  16. The classics teacher born in the 1890s and Grand'mère's early ignorance of the term remind me of Tom Stoppard's "The Invention of Love". Because, to begin with, the word wasn't even coined until 1892 (per the OED). And in Stoppard's play, A. E. Housman, who had some connection with the matter, hears the new word from a colleague and reacts with horror. Like, pseudo-quoted from memory:

    "That's the ugliest word I have ever heard. Homo-sexual? Homo is Greek; sexual is Latin!"

    In other news, Epstein depicting Einstein? Where's Gert Stein? Remember the Philistines' marching song,

    Now here's to the family of Stein.
    There's Gert and there's Ep and there's Ein.
    Gert's poems are bunk,
    Ep's statues are junk,
    And nobody understands Ein.

    That limerick has been accused of antisemitism. I think this misses the point, which is philistinism.

    Someone will point out that the Philistines weren't exactly pro-semitic.

    Oh, well.

  17. Fifteen or so. Pupils at 1950's English boys schools were likely a tad more au fait where such matters were concerned than Louisiana convent girls. As to the nuns?

    wv "micers".

  18. Looking at the Rennie sculpture, I stand by my practice of assuming that all Neo-Classicals are gay until I find out otherwise.

  19. Hymen has a nice tusch:

  20. Leave it to us lewd queens to find some fun in what is otherwise a rather ho-hum Victorian marriage allegory (Love kindles the flame of marriage, zzzzzzzzz).

  21. I stood alone in the museum and tried hard not to LOL at the title of the Cupid and Hymen sculpture.

    Mark, folks with narrow minds and imaginations find it difficult to accept that types of sexual relationships have been many and varied throughout the long history of the human race.

    Porlock, the limerick is so funny. I thought of the 'steins', too, although I left Gert out. The bust of Einstein is a powerful work of sculpture, which took me aback when I came upon it, although I'd seen another cast at a different museum.

    Lapin, until high school, I knew only of maiden aunts and bachelor uncles, some who had close 'friendships' with a member of the same sex, but that was about it. I probably heard the word 'queer' before I heard 'homosexual'.

    Counterlight, you lewd queens have corrupted me beyond redemption. And yes, Hymen has a very nice tush. It was the title of the work that got my wicked sense of humor going.

  22. Ann, I like 'wondering about', too. Too much in the way of planned activities in my travels tend to weigh on me.

  23. Counterlight,

    Wow. No, that really is a great tushy. What strikes me is that the sculptor - unlike most who sculpted youthful male forms - didn't give him the feminine oval form of hips and buttocks most classical sculptors did. Even from the back, with his long hair, that's a guy.

  24. Hymen's a guy, all right, front and back.


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