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Conservators in England have uncovered 17th-century potty humor in a painting owned by the Royal Family, Smithsonian.com reports. It turns out that Isack van Ostade’s “A Village Fair With a Church Behind” (1643) — as the painting was perhaps cheekily titled — shows a man with his pants down relieving himself in the middle of a busy street.
Staff at the Royal Collection Trust discovered this “surprising element,” as they called it, while cleaning the painting ahead of an upcoming exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery. They realized that a bush in the right foreground wasn’t original to the painting but had been added in 1903. As they started removing it, the squatting peasant appeared.
The 16th- and 17th-century Dutch painters seemed to enjoy inserting exposed buttocks into their paintings. They appear in Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” (c. 1500), Brueghel the Younger’s “Winter Landscape” (1564), and Brueghel the Elder’s “Netherlandish Roverbs” (1559). “Dutch artists often include people or animals answering the call of nature partly as a joke and partly to remind viewers of that crucial word ‘nature,’ the inspiration for their art,” said Desmond Shawe-Taylor, surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures collection, in a statement.
Jokes about poop and pee have also been a staple of British comedy since Geoffrey Chaucer published The Canterbury Tales in 1475. William Shakespeare routinely made fart jokes in works like The Comedy of Errors, and George IV seemed to have no problem with it when he purchased “A Village Fair” in 1810.
But during the more repressed — let’s say it, constipated — Edwardian era, toilet humor may have been less welcome. “Queen Victoria thought the Dutch pictures in her collection were painted in a ‘low style,’” Shawe-Taylor said. “[Two] years after her death perhaps a royal advisor felt similar.”
Whatever the case, the new finding suggests there might yet be more rear ends to be exposed in the Royal Family’s collection. Conservators found one in a tavern sign in Jan Steen’s “A Village Revel” (1673), also acquired by George IV. A bull’s head had been painted over it.
Archeologists can now prove the Vikings made landfall in the Americas hundreds of years before Columbus reached the Bahamas.
This week, the National Gallery of Art finally acquired a major work by Faith Ringgold, the director of The Velvet Underground talks film, North America’s Hindu Nationalist problem, canceling legacy admissions, and more.
No Vacancy, curated by Jody Graf, will be on view from October 26 through November 8 at the school’s Kellen Gallery in New York City.
Sculptures of Oaxacan alebrijes, envisioned as guardians of the nation’s immigrant community, and catrinas, Day of the Dead skeletons, are now at Rockefeller Center.
“I am trying to keep the immediacy of my emotional experience while I’m painting.”
Art by Athena LaTocha, Wendy Red Star, Marianne Nicolson, Anita Fields, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith & Neal Ambrose-Smith, and more is on view through January 2022.
The intention behind the seemingly bizarre combination was, according to Attie, “to give visual form to the shared American and Brazilian reality of nationalistic divisions that defines our political present.”
Nowhere in the museums’ advertising blitzkrieg for the performance were we told to bring our wildfire-season masks as well as our covid masks, and covid masks don’t prevent smoke inhalation.