Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Leda and the Swan

Leda and the Swan, Cesare Sesto
The myth of Leda and the Swan is disturbing. Zeus takes the form of a swan and rapes Leda on the same night she sleeps with her husband. Leda then give birth to four children; two by her husband and two by Zeus hatched from eggs. Leda and the Swan is a common motif in Italian Renaissance art, but it is always painted or sculpted as a highly erotic encounter. Like being raped by a swan and giving birth to bastard egg children is the height of eroticism.

Leda and the Swan, Bachiacca
Last week I was at the Met and saw no less than four pieces depicting the Leda motif. They all reminded me of an older photograph I took while crashing a random child's birthday party in Port Jervis, NY. Where the classic depiction of Leda and the Swan is all amorous smiles and post-coital glow, I think this image might be a more authentic depiction of Leda's reaction to the experience.

The Swan © Amy Stein
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