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Pierre-Narcisse Guerin - Morpheus and Iris (1811)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Idylle (1851)

For today’s December Double I would like to share 'Morpheus and Iris' by French painter Pierre-Narcisse Guerin and 'Idylle' by fellow French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau, two works which direct our attention to the beauty and seductiveness of the male form.

While 'Morpheus and Iris' represents both of its subjects in the nude, I find it refreshing to note that the male figure, Morpheus, the unmistakable focal point of this work, is depicted in a sensuous manner with his torso reclining toward us and his arms stretched upward, as if Guerin were inviting us to admire his youthful physique. Iris, on the other hand, is granted some modesty, or at least more than that of her companion. In this painting Morpheus is clearly meant to be the viewer’s object of fancy.

'ldylle' appeals to me for much of the same reasons. I like how the nude man is seated on the ground while looking upward at the clothed women smiling down at him. With his arms and legs wrapped around her body, presumably urging her forward while reciting a poem, there's something very tender and intimate about this painting. She appears to be picking peddles off the flower, perhaps indicating that’s she’s considering his invitation. Also, whether intentional or not, the woodland setting recalls Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
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