Gallery

Louvre: Hermaphrodite endormi

The sculpture was on my ticket. I had no idea it was in the Louvre. Around 18h, five hours into my adventure, when I was on my way to the Mediæval French Sculpture collection, I realised my umpteenth up-and-down stairs, back and forth across the wings might not fortuitously land arse before object. ’Cos it was one of two pieces I seriously wanted to perv at, and it was dawning on me that One Does Not Simply Walk Into The Louvre. So I asked, and it was right around the corner.

She’s pretty fucking amazing. Subject matter aside, Hermaphrodite endormi is a right fine piece of Classical 2nd century marble—and Baroque mattress-ing. I thought the bedding was original, but it’s a 17th century addition, and having spent this afternoon looking at my photos, I think the work is incredible either way. The sheet wrapped around her foot, the tension in the fabric as it passes around her ankle, underneath her body to finish bunched around her forearms and hands; the spiral through her body from legs one way, hips lifting, shoulders twisting and head in the opposite direction. And her gaze, though her eyes are closed, she’s definitely choosing this so we can look at her, and it makes her so vulnerable as whoever’s looking sees her naked but she can’t return the gaze. Or judgement. This game of looking and being looked at—cos she’s definitely looking back and controlling the scene—we only get to look because she lets us. It’s crazy sexy.

And dangerous. I wonder how many of the Louvre’s visitors see her as a freak, laugh, make jokes, hide their own intense discomfort with arseholery. Less now than in the recent past, for sure. For me, I would definitely steal her. Fuck the Mona Lisa, that’s some mediocre shit (though far more portable in for thievery). I looked back as I was leaving and I swear she lifted her head and looked right at me. Totally did a double-take.

Louvre: Hermaphrodite endormi. IIe siècle après J.-C. Rome — 1
Louvre: Hermaphrodite endormi. IIe siècle après J.-C. Rome — 1
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Louvre: Hermaphrodite endormi. IIe siècle après J.-C. Rome — 2
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Louvre: Hermaphrodite endormi. IIe siècle après J.-C. Rome — 3
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Louvre: Hermaphrodite endormi. IIe siècle après J.-C. Rome — 4
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Louvre: Hermaphrodite endormi. IIe siècle après J.-C. Rome — 5
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Louvre: Hermaphrodite endormi. IIe siècle après J.-C. Rome — 6
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Louvre: Hermaphrodite endormi. IIe siècle après J.-C. Rome — 7
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Louvre: Hermaphrodite endormi. IIe siècle après J.-C. Rome — 9