Two hours later. I’d got through most of the French mediæval sculpture collection, somehow romped through Napoleon III’s apartments, found the second work I was looking for, realised that the continuation of aforementioned collection was in the room I’d brushed off as “More Classical stuff” headed in and bumped into Narcisse, also known as Hermaphrodite Mazarin or Génie du repos éternel. Which is a dead strange piece my French comprehension falls over on.
I think it was originally two separate 3rd century marble sculptures from Italy, which were assembled into one. The Duke of Mazarin had something to do with this in 1670, but I’m not sure if he was responsible for the statue, or for its mutilation. I’m not going too near what I’ve read on this work because it falls into the twin hysterias “mad king sex freak” and “post-modern philosofuckery” the latter being boring and common and tends towards the most reductive of binary analysis by cis, hetero, white men who love to read into anything not pee-pee-in-jay-jay as evidence of The Multiplicity or similar wackery. Cos trans bodies are always there for cis people to use.
Nonetheless, I was dead happy to find two Hermaphrodite sculptures in the Louvre—and there’s probably even more but I didn’t even make it to the Antiquities or Islamic Arts collections, plus the museum rotates sections in and out of openness on various days due to being understaffed, so in nine hours of methodical stomping I missed at least a third.
This is an odd and damaged work that I first thought was a St. Sebastian. It’s difficult to know what’s damage that accrued over time, damage from the Duke, damage that’s retaliation for the subject. In some ways it’s a more contemporary work than Hermaphrodite endormi, the physical damage the sculptural equivalent of surgical scars for a trans person’s body. (Which is also why I’m not engaging here with what passes for critical discussion about this work, blah-ing on about trans bodies being constructed and by implicit and unspoken extension, Frankenstein-ishly artificial and damaged, the product of mad, deranged minds.)
Anyway, it’s a beautiful work. I wouldn’t steal it like I would Hermaphrodite endormi, and she didn’t look at me when I glanced back, but yeah, gets a special post also.