Archive for the Babylon Beefcake Category

Philoctetes, Nasty Snake Bites and Traitorous Comrades (plus other hot, fallen, half -naked guys)

Posted in Babylon Beefcake, Guido Reni, Hercules, LACMA, Mantegna, Philoctetes on October 3, 2011 by babylonbaroque

The better half is writing an article on Philoctetes, the Greek warrior favored by Herakles,  who suffered a snake wound, abandonment by his comrades and psychological agony.

My task of course was to find suitable images.

So here they are.

Nicolai AbrahamAbildgaard

The Wounded Philoctetes


Upon entering his own funeral pyre, Hercules entrusted Philoctetes with his bow and poisoned arrows, with which Philoctetes shot Paris. A final victory for the Greeks in the Trojan War.

His comrades proved to be far less valiant.

Guido Reni

Heracles and the Hydra (snake theme)


Philoctetes and his mates were advised by an oracle to make a sacrifice to the  god Chryse. As Philoctetes had made a  similar sacrifice with Hercules in his youth, (the two seemed to be un-naturally close) Philoctetes was chosen to lead the way. As first man in line, he encounters a snake and suffers a vicious bite.

Nicolas Poussin

Landscape with a Man Frightened by a Snake


Montreal Museum of Fine Art

(interesting note, this painting was purchased by the Bloomsbury artist duncan Grant in 1920)

So painful the bite, his howling made the sacrifice impossible to perform. Irritated by his incessant agony and quite stinky festering wound, his loyal comrades abandon him to the nearby island of Lemnos. As Hephaestus had his own foul smelling shop there no one would be bothered by his wails and stench.

Nice fellows.

Jean Germain Drovais 1763-1788

Philoctetes on the Island of Lemnos


Andrea Mantegna



Frankly, not sure how the story ends, seems to be a bunch of angst, will need to read the Beloved’s paper.

Until then, beefcake with wounds.

Jean-Simon Berthélemy 1743-1811

Death of a Gladiator

(I know not Greek, but hot, and a local favorite)



It has been quite some time since I posted but early in September, the very handsome Andy Whitfield died, without being glib, he was known for having played a particularly striking gladiator. I confess I have never seen the show, but this Welshman, of quite striking looks was difficult not to notice. To die so young, 39, adds to the pathos. 

Recquiscat in Pace

I appreciate the patience of my readers, my classes have been quite difficult, even this abbreviated post has taken me away from tasks that need attending to. Until next time, take care, Babylon Baroque


Perseus and Andromedus

Posted in Annibale Carracci, Babylon Beefcake, Gay, Perseus & Andromeda/us, Vasari on July 24, 2011 by babylonbaroque

As today is my birthday (49th), I thought I might be allowed a bit of self indulgence. This blog of course explores my interest, but I rarely feel it is suitable  or appropriate to publish images of my own work, today will be an exception. I will , as usual include images created by far greater masters then this humble author;  to provide examples of inspiration, and sadly reveal the weakness of my own compositions. With this in mind , please view my attempts as the scribbles of an enthusiastic amateur.

Since boyhood Greek mythology has captured my imagination, the tale of valiant Perseus rescuing fair Andromeda a particular favorite. Psychologically I haven’t a clue as to why this myth resonated so viscerally;  am I Andromeda? am I Perseus?

I imagine I am a hybrid of both.

I recently stumbled upon an example of the myth by Giorio  Vasari, this painting rekindled my delight in the tale and inspired me to attempt my own version. I desired to portray the story as closely as Vasari had, but to switch the lovely  maidenAndromeda with an equally lovely boy, Andromedus -if I mangled the Latin, pardon me, my last Latin class was in 1980.

Giorgio Vasari

Perseus and Andromeda


Oil on slate

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

What I find of particular interest is that in this painting , part of a decorative scheme depicting the elements, this being water, Vasari is not only imaging the voluptuous moment of valiant rescue, but also depicting the moment in which coral is first created. Popular legend imagined coral to be the result of the spilt blood of the gorgon Medusa.

I love that, I have a bit of coral around my neck, I am tickled that it is a relic of  the fearsome Medusa.

My composition sketch is more modest, and I fear perhaps more “gay”, I probably should examine why that is bothersome to me. Vasari very clearly relished depicting the seductive Nereids in their aquatic Sapphic play. Why should I hesitate to depict vulnerable male pulchritude?

by the author

Perseus and Andromedus 

preparatory drawing for oil painting, 30 by 40 inches


graphite on paper

Ovid describes Andromeda , bound and helpless, as frozen like a “marble statue”; I wanted to capture that  sense with  my youth, resigned to his fate. This is the moment prior to his salvation  Perseus approaching from behind, Vasari depicts the scene post rescue, the monster quite slain.


detail of the Vasari.

I  admire how Vasari managed to balance his sensual delight in the figures and still create a  poetic composition. what I fear is my composition will take on the lascivious qualities of illustrators such as Boris Vallejo.

work by Boris Vallejo

I hope that with a thoughtful palette, I will be able to avoid the excesses so often depicted in what is categorized  as gay art. I hope this isn’t some bit of repressed internal homophobia, but in actuality an attempt to fuse sensuality with beauty. The Humanist painters were so successful at that.

As usual I will conclude with some really marvelous examples of this fusion of beauty, physical and soulful. They of course provide inspiration and intimidate the hell out of me. I must carry on nonetheless.

Annibale Carracci

Perseus and Andromeda



Farnese Gallery, Rome

click to enlarge

Annibale’s brother, Domenichino ,might have been responsible for the depiction of Andromeda’s wailing parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia.

I particularly love the sea monster. I chose to depict my own Leviathan dragon- like, but I may change that as the painting progresses.

Another marvelous example is painted on lapis lazuli, such opulence!

Cavalier d’Arpina, also known as Giuseppe Casani

Perseus Rescuing Andromeda


oil on lapis lazuli

 St. Louis Art Museum

The next image, from Pompeii, is perhaps a bit closer to the source of the tale.

Wall painting,

Pompeii, Casa Dei Dioscuri

The following example, though more chaste, is perhaps a more charming depiction of the rescue. 

anonymous 15th century illumination

The following 18th century example really capture the fleshiness of the tale, a visual delight.

Charles André van Loo

Perseus and Andromeda


oil on canvas


Again, enchanted by the Sea Monster, I really will have to re-work my version.

Anton Raphael Mengs

Perseus and Andromeda


oil on canvas


This smoking hot Perseus is soon to be replaced in the 19th century by images almost as chaste as the 15th century illumination.

Our loss.

Alas the artist’s skill level is probably more in line with my own.

Illustration of the tale by Gustav Benjamin Schwab ( 1792-1850).

Schwab’s depiction of Perseus is lifted  almost directly from Carracci’s imagining of Mercury in the Farnese panel Paris and Mercury, although as mentioned without the nasty bits.

Annibale Carracci

Paris and Mercury

A more poetic image from a Frenchman is perhaps to be expected.

 Charles Edouard de Beaumont (1812-1888)


19th century illustration

I will begin the painting shortly,  it is a daunting task,  but one that I look forward to. I will periodically keep my readers abreast on its progress.

Until then,

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

Slow going on the painting, but here is the progress thus far.

August 5th 2011

detail of August 5th’s progress

Blocking in, August 7th

August 11th

August 14th, I have continued to work on Perseus for much of the day.

The Academy versus The Street, neo-Poussinistes versus neo-Caravaggisti

Posted in 16th cent, Andy Warhol, Babylon Beefcake, Caravaggio, Jacques Louis David, Nicholas Poussin on June 30, 2011 by babylonbaroque

I am fortunate to live in a vibrant neighbor, the Arts District of Los Angeles.

7th & Mateo St., Los Angeles

This neighborhood  may  well be  the center of Los Angeles’ Renaissance, for like 15th-16th century Florence, my neighborhood is rich with public work. On a recent jog through town I  confronted  a familiar face plastered upon a derelict wall, St Therese , lifted directly from Bernini’s masterpiece, translated from divine marble to street-worthy stencil.

I wasn’t sure what to think, I was pleased that this anonymous artist found her beautiful face as inspiring as I have ; but I am concerned that there is a lack of reverence that great art is due. We seem to live in a time and place where all imagry is up for grabs, to be clipped and pasted to suit the creator’s taste and imagination. My experience with fellow students, is a dis-regard for the source, what matters is the aesthetic appeal. This saddens and worries me, what is the relevance of great art when it is as desirable and as ephemeral as an image from advertising.

Damn you Mr. Warhol

I am concerned our cultural experience will become increasingly less rich and less rewarding. This isn’t a new argument of course, Nicholas Poussin famously complained that “Caravaggio had come into the world to destroy painting”. Poussin’s opposition to Caravaggio’s “street” art is understandable considering Poussin’s belief that “…the first requirement, which is the basis for all others, is that the subject should be great, such as battles, heroic actions and divine matters…”; Caravaggio’s saints with dirty feet would certainly have conflicted with Poussin’s directive to “disregard anything that is vulgar…” (source:Alain Merot Nicolas Poussin).

Los Angeles is in enthralled with this image of spontaneous street expression, MOCA is enjoying popular attendance with its blockbuster exhibition Art in the Streets. This enthusiasm for uninhibited (illegal ?) expression can be found elsewhere as well, Pasadena Museum of California Art has jumped on the “street” bandwagon with its current exhibition Street Cred: Graffiti Art from Concrete to Canvas ; recently there was an event downtown in which  skateboarding youth were quite literally given the streets, Wild in the Streets.

As I sit and type this I am aware of how curmudgeonly conservative I appear. I am conservative, but I do not believe that restricts my appreciation of public work with visual merit; my concern is that the traditions I most admire will be lost in a cloud of aerosol .

That said lets look at pretty pictures.


2011 (?)


7th and Mateo, Los Angeles


Work by Nomadé is difficult to not admire and enjoy, I run by examples quite frequently, particularly around the corner from my home at 7th and Mateo. The work is pasted up and requires  regular maintenance, which often translate into another arresting (no pun intended) image.




7th & Mateo


This short clip is marvelous at demonstrating the creation,  as you will see, studio preparation is  an important part of the process.

More work by Nomadé can be found at this link.

Please follow the following prompts for more examples to be found in my neighborhood, work by JR, D*Face, Shepard Farey, etc., link and link, you will be in  for a visual treat.

But for all of that robust masculine expression created by Nomadé, I must of course confess an allegiance to that monarchist traitor, Jacques Louise David .

I prefer David’s beefcake to Nomadé’s.

Jacques-Louis David ( 1748-1825)

The Intervention of the Sabine Women



oil on canvas


Can I be blamed for preferring the above to this,


I have been “crushing “on David’s noble soldiers since I was a boy, his paintings have continued to give me great joy. A joy  and satisfaction that I doubt a paste-up will be able to sustain.

Although “street” art often requires extensive preparation, this attention to detail  pales to the fifteen years David devoted to his monumental Leonidas at Thermopylae. David strove for  the “ideal beauty” the Academy and subject demanded.

Poussin may well have chided David for defying his decree that an artist must “…make every effort to avoid getting lost in minute detail, so as not to detract from the dignity of the story”, for David made many sketches reworking the composition time and again. The painting has been criticized as over-worked, but again, I am merely infatuated with the virile splendor and painterly virtuosity.

Leonides at Thermopylae


oil on canvas


Leonidas at Thermopylae


I have been in love with the soldier on Leonide’s left for decades, the timelessness of love and art.

For a higher quality image of the painting follow this Encyclopedia Britannica link .

The following are some of the examples of David’s attention to detail, both source links offer very interesting insight into David’s process, well worth a peek.

Leonides at Thermopylae

ca. 1814

black chalk, squared in black chalk

Metropolitan Museum of Art

ca. 1813


I will end this Academic love fest with just two more images ,because I can never be satisfied with less.

I appreciate your indulgence.

Study after Michelangelo


black chalk


Mars Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces


Musée royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique

I appreciate the opportunity to rant, until next time, take care.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque


Today’s Favorite Painting

Posted in 16th cent, Babylon Beefcake, Bronzino on June 28, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Agnolo Bronzino

Portrait of Andrea Doria as Neptune

ca. 1532-33

oil on canvas

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

This image of the aging condottiere Andrea Doria ( 1466-1560) gives this  particular aging old fool inspiration. Although Renaissance Italians  clearly worshipped youth, the majesty of this fully mature man is apparent. 

Off to Gold’s.

Take care,

Babylon Baroque


Monday’s Favorite Painting

Posted in 17th century, Babylon Beefcake, Guido Reni on June 27, 2011 by babylonbaroque

A local treasure, held by  LACMA.

Guido Reni  (1575-1642)

Bacchus and Ariadne


oil in canvas

With such loveliness in mind I can endure the bus ride  back to the mechanic.

Have a great week,

Babylon Baroque


William Etty, R.A. , crossing the line of Victorian propriety

Posted in 19th Century, Aubrey Beardsley, Babylon Beefcake, John Everett Millais, R.A. on May 6, 2011 by babylonbaroque

I am now reading Linda Gertner Zatlin’s excellent Beardsley Japonisme and the perversion of the Victorian ideal ; in her  study of fin de siecle subversiveness she references  William Etty.   William Etty’s historical and allegorical paintings were frequently criticized by his contemporaries as  being mere excuses to portray fleshy pulchritude. As Zatlin states his paintings “broke the code of acceptable public decorum”, the beauty he portrayed flagrantly crossed that cultural  line violating the unspoken yet understood decree that art be free of open sexuality.

Although best known for his glorious female figures, I rather predictably will focus on the male nude.

I appreciate the indulgence.

Reclining male nude, raised right knee


oil on millboard


With this study as an example it is clear wht Zatlin states that Victorians were far more comfortable with the subtle eroticism of Millais’s Mariana (1851).

John Everett Millais



oil on board


Mariana’s languor though apparent is respectable, Etty was not inclined to that sort of respectability, thank goodness.

William Etty, R.A.

Sleeping Nymph and Satyrs


oil on canvas

Royal Academy

Etty was masterful at depicting the nude and wisely ignored the demand that he “turn from his wicked ways” and create paintings “fit for decent company”.

I must be quite indecent and quite wicked for  I love William Etty and his flamboyantly sensual paintings.

Male nude, arms upstretched

Study of male nude


oil on paper on board

Royal Academy

Hero, Having Thrown herself from the Tower at the Sight of Leander Drowned, dies on his Body

exhibited 1829


For those of you in the U.K. what appears to be a  marvelous exhibition William Etty: Art and Controversy will open June 25th (closing January 12th 2012) at the York Art Gallery. I hope you can catch it, I plan to pre-order the catalog.

William Etty, R.A.

b. 10 March 1787

d. 13 November 1849

monument to Etty, erected 1911, in front of the York Art Gallery

Study of a peacock for ‘The Judgement of Paris’


oil on board


Wishing all a good weekend,

Babylon Baroque


Bruce Sargeant, the Gay Deceiver?

Posted in 20th century, Babylon Beefcake, Gay, Quaintance on April 7, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Thumbing through the always excellent Gay & Lesbian Review, I was struck by an arresting image, a painting by Bruce Sargeant, Wrestler in Singlet.

As the article promised, I had never heard of Sargeant.

Apparently, a painter of promise, born 1898, that golden period before the war. Gifted, inspired, his talents enhanced by a stint at the Slade School, tragic affairs with young pretty boys, familial exile and ultimately a tragic early (1938) death when a wrestling match goes awry ( I assume with quite a cute lad).

Is all this some sort of E.M. Forster fantasy? If so,  the G&LR doesn’t let on that it is.

Upon research it appears to be some high camp romp. Mark Beard,  a”distant relative”, seems to have created Sargeant as his alter ego. The mainstream gay rags, Out and The Advocate in particular seem to be a bit more clued in.

I confess I am still a bit baffled, but evidence suggests it is a bit of a prank.

In the end it doesn’t matter, painted in the 20’s in some Bloomsbury haze, or yesterday by some smart fellow in New York, the images are a  joy to behold, undeniably sexy, well crafted,  and worthy of our attention be it directed at Beard or Sargeant.

Swimmer Drying Himself

Berlin Olympics


John Stevenson Gallery


Portrait of a Wrestler

John Stevenson Gallery


Weight Lifter

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

Carrie Haddad Gallery

Standing Male Nude

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

Carrie Haddad Gallery

Unidentified Surfer

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant

Carrie Haddad Gallery

Young Wrestlers

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant


(the year of his wrestling match “death”)

Sargeant’s/ Beard’s draftsmanship is exceptional as the following images illustrate.

both sourced from Carrie Haddad Gallery.

My suspicions were raised by this high camp scene, but really is it any more extreme then some fantasy by George Quaintance?

La Chasse aux Cygnes

Mark Beard as Bruce Sargeant


(he was supposedly born in ’98)

Carrie Haddad Gallery

Great fun.

This mysterious play has left me yearning for flesh and blood vintage beefcake, so I close with some actual dapper fellows.

Tim Murnane




Butch (indeed)



If interested there is a book which seems to accompany Beard’s/Sargeants work, Bruce Sargeant and His Circle, Figure and Form, by Mark Beard.

I hope you have enjoyed these rather naughty images as much as I have.

Take care,

Babylon Baroque

Addendum: my chum Serge, far worldlier (not to mention a collector of Beard/Sargeant) has set me straight so to speak, follow this link for the complete scoop.