Saturday, April 05, 2014

Vintage Male Nude Photo

 
 
I don't usually post fully nude photographs on this blog but I think with the absence of dangly bits we will make an exception with this wonderful little item that arrived today in the post. Clearly intended to have religious inference as "The Baptism" is written in French on the verso but it's not entirely clear who the third protagonist is intended to be if this is meant to be a representation of the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist. It was sold with anther photo from the same series which showed a veiled nude figure from the back preaching in a landscape. An arresting and extremely unusual image.

3 comments:

Paul Brownsey said...

Could one of the figures be meant to be the Spirit descending like a dove?

Paul Brownsey said...

I've just had a trawl through baptism-of-Jesus paintings on the web. None of them has anything like the figure on the left, whom I take to be someone reaching out to feel on himself some of the water with which Jesus (in the centre, I presume) has been baptised. So my hunch that this is an attempt to reproduce a particular old master painting of the baptism isn't substantiated.

John Hamilton said...

I wonder whether in fact the photo was taken first, as a sort of von Gloeden-ish image, and only afterwards someone -- seeking a suitable title -- decided to call it "The Baptism". One of the oddities of the image is that the baptizer is somewhat in the foreground of the baptizand, so that the water won't quite fall on him. The water is more likely meant for the crouching man with his hands stretched out (?)

As a matter of fact, I've been reading quite a bit recently about the history of early Christianity, and there is one thing about this image which is accurate, namely, the nudity. In first century baptisms, the baptizand was completely nude. He would have been completely immersed; and when he came up, he would be expected to display certain "gifts of the Spirit". This could be either an impromptu healing, a prophecy, or glossalalia (speaking in tongues). It's a pity that adult bapitzands are not required to exhibit similar miraculous signs today!

 
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