Friday we walked through the Met's "Art and Love in Renaissance Italy" exhibit, which was largely uninteresting. NY Times review here.
Too many dishes, we thought, even if the dishware is maiolica. We're the plebian sort, generally interested in plates as far as what is on them is for us to eat. We gave most of the objects and paintings cursory attention. As well I was beyond my endurance, in screaming pain, after 3 hours in the "Beyond Babylon" exhibit. But the Met is like that. Once you're there, you keep going because you are forever stumbling on something that takes your breath away. The problem is that destroys me for the rest of the day, and the next one – and that's when I'm lucky. Marble floors and standing are absolutely counter-indicated for someone with my spinal condition.
What was of interest among the many depictions of weddings, pregnancy and childrbirth, couples and clasped hands (emblematic of fidelty), were the round, ornate gift boxes in which the bride then kept the smaller, valuable gifts from her betrothed and others, such as jewels, cosmetics and their ornate containers, sewing tools, encased in their own ornate, gilded and be-jeweled containers, such as needles and pins, and again ornate, gilded and embossed in the perhaps silver chased leather cases, her writing implements. These are not the same object as the canzoni, the huge, ornate chests with narrative painted panels. These are all customs of the wealthy and powerful. What the lower classes do with betrothal, marriage, childbirth and whoredom is not present in these galleries.
There were also a few pornographic – erotic, since this a museum and everything is art? objects included in the section called, if I recall correctly, "Sensual Love." My favorite was a print of a Venetian courtesan, whose skirt can be lifted by the viewer in order to see her nether parts garbed in lace trimmed transparent silk, a 16th c predecessor of the pop-up book. In the exhibit the skirt is permanently lifted by a pin for our delectation.
An exception to the boring maiolica was a plate that memorializes 'The Dickhead.' You can see it too, if you scroll down the screen here.
You can also learn more about "The Dickhead" here.
I badly wanted to visit "Provocative Visions: Race and Identity—Selections from the Permanent Collection, but I could hardly walk, so we went home. The pain was worth it.
"The Wreck of the ship Ululubrun", i.e. "Beyond Babylon," where we spent the most time, later.