Beastiality

Ringel d'Illzach

6.75h x 9.25w x 4d in

LDR001

C. 1900

Description

Inventory Number LDR001

Size 6.75h x 9.25w x 4d in

Material Stoneware

Period Art Nouveau

Country of Origin France

Year Made C. 1900

Status Available

Condition Excellent

A remarkable and possibly unique sculpture depicting a recumbent woman constricted by a python, whose tail penetrates her in an act of anal intercourse. The piece may also have served as a box or inkwell, as evidenced by the snail-knobbed lid on one side.

The prostrate figure of the woman also recalls Auguste Rodin’s marble sculpture Andromeda (1885-86), which shows the maiden from Greek mythology awaiting sacrifice to a sea monster. The motif of a woman being ravaged by a wild animal also appears in Emmanual Frémiet’s sculpture Gorilla Carrying off a Woman (1887). Moreover, the sexual element suggests Ringel’s familiarity with Japanese shunga prints by Hokusai and Shigenobu portraying female pearl divers ravished by octopuses.

Despite these possible influences, Woman and Python Coupling stands apart for its handling of a recurring erotic theme through the unique plastic properties of its medium. Ringel’s ceramic sculpture captures the fluid movement of the artist’s hands, contorting and melding the flesh of woman and reptile alike. It is a previously unacknowledged masterpiece of late French Symbolist art.

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