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Home | 2016

That Sappho thing

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2016-09-23 10:57.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) produced a few drawings on the subject of Sappho. He was in his 'reduction to essentials' period. The image at the bottom right of this group is a good example of this technique.

Henri Matisse, Sappho, ND Henri Matisse, Sappho, ND

Male artists who paint impressions of Sappho – 'impressions' because no one has any idea at all what she looked like – understandably go for the 'hot chick wearing little or nothing look'. Presumably it sold better. Here is Laurence Koe's amusing effort.


Laurence Koe (1869-1913), Sappho, nd. This painting sold for £58,750 in 2014.

The reality was probably quite different. In 1493 the illustrator of the Nuremberg Chronicle came up with the medieval guess, below left, which seems more convincing than Koe's naked, lyre-playing chick – appealingly dominant, slightly butch, in fact. Below right we have our Sappho for the 21st-century, who, minus the motorbike of course, might be closer than any of them.

Image right: 'Dykes on Bikes' ©David Shankbone

Who knows? One can still dream…