Work of Art

Title: The Suitors

Artist: Gustave Moreau

Style: Symbolism

Genre: genre painting

Technique: oil

Material: canvas

Dimensions: 343 x 385 cm

      Painted in 1853, Moreau’s The Suitors presents the viewer with an arresting scene from Classical mythology. The returned Odysseus presents himself in his palace, which is occupied by Penelope’s suitors. Intriguingly, Moreau pivoted the point of action forty-five degrees in order to draw attention to them. Instead of the wandering king, the viewer’s eyes focus on  these sybaritic youths sprawled on divans. Besotted and ephebic, they appear as effete Uranians incapable of mounting any challenge to Ulysses. Soon to be slaughtered, they and not Penelope are this scene’s victims.

Sumptuously Caligulan, The Suitors creates a fantastical tableau décadence for Moreau’s Parisian audiences.  Chimerically depicting ancient Ithaca with gilded Corinthian pediments and lapus Lazuli columns, it abandons reality for wild reveries. Moreau implies that this degeneration will be brought to a bloody end. Just as Odysseus enters the hall, dawn breaks outside and grey-eyed Athena appears in her Olympian glory. With their arrivals, order will be restored, masculinity reaffirmed and honor seated in state. Yet for one delicious moment, Moreau invites us into a world à rebours of frockcoats, corsets and bourgeois morality. Like all great Symbolist paintings, myriad underlying meanings abound in The Suitors. Inspiring curiosity and concupiscence, compelling us to look further and tantalizing us with ripe potentialities, it lingers in our minds’ eyes long after we depart from the gallery.      




About Peter Sayles

Peter Sayles ist eine junge rechtsextremistischem und glühender New Englander