Ideal Beauty – 500 Years Ago

By October 3, 2011 November 28th, 2013 One Comment

I have a little tradition: on my birthday, for the past 5 years, I’ve always visited a museum. Last year it was the British Museum in London. This year: the Louvre. I have been there about a dozen times, but every time feels like the first. There is simply so much to see.

After spending about half an hour transfixed in front of Leonardo’s St John the Baptist, Mona Lisa, The Virgin of the Rocks, and the Belle Ferronnière, I decided to wander around looking for paintings that could be interesting for “The Illusionists.” I didn’t have to walk too far. On the wall right behind the iconic Mona Lisa was this painting by Titien, from 1509, titled “Le Concert Champêtre” (The Pastoral Concert).

Look carefully at the two women portrayed in the painting.

Here’s the description on the Louvre plaque.

Traditionally attributed to Giorgione, The Pastoral Concert is now considered a work from Titian’s youth. This mysterious painting is meant to be an allegory of Poetry, whose symbols – the flute and the pouring water – are shared between two nude women of ideal beauty. These unreal figures exist only in the imaginations of the two men they inspire, according to a taste widespread in Venice for simultaneous depictions of the visible and invisible.

Two nude women of ideal beauty. “Ideal Beauty” for 1509.

A little heads up: two years ago I was commissioned a short film for ARTE Web and the Louvre Museum. In “Ideal Women,” I compared beauty ideals in the art world vs. contemporary mass media. You can see it here:



Generous support for The Illusionists provided by:

The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt provides a comprehensive continuum of specialized care for children, adolescents and adults with eating disorders. Our holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to recovery helps individuals and families move beyond surviving to thriving.