Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lady Godiva: Chocolate & Wine or Pre-Raphaelite Lust?

The legend of Lady Godiva riding naked through the streets of Coventry, either in penitence or securing an abolishment of excessive taxes on the people by her husband, dates back to possibly the 1200s. Yet she is most immortalized in this painting by pre-Raphaelite painter John Collier.

It is further said that her legend inspired the term voyeur, for while when she rode all were supposed to be inside, one man, "peeping Tom" the tailor, did not. And was struck blind.

I am a voyeur... to this painting that excels any fantasy imagined. By the hand and skill of Collier, Lady Godiva is indeed a goddess here, lithe and humble yet seductive in her nakedness, letting the dressings of her beautiful horse embody her class, purpose and confidence. The lust of this painting pales in comparison to any dark chocolate. I will couple this with a poem from one of my favorite pre-Raphaelite poets, Christina Rossetti.

The Rose
The lily has a smooth stalk,
Will never hurt your hand;
But the rose upon her brier
Is Lady of the land.

There's sweetness in an apple tree,
And profit in the corn;
But Lady of all beauty
Is a rose upon a thorn.

When with moss and honey
She tips her bending brier,
And half unfolds her glowing heart,
She sets the world on fire.

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