"Anxiety over the meanings of the male nude was especially strong in France. Since the seventeenth century, French artists had followed Renaissance conventions that made the heroic male body— especially the male nude— a symbol for a range of civic virtues. By the late eighteenth century, however, reaction against both the aristocracy and the violent terrors of the Revolution prompted artists and patrons to seek out anti-heroic imagery. Turning to Winckelmann’s art history, with its emphasis on cycles and change, artists appealed to post-Revolutionary audiences with images of languorous male nudes, known as Anacreontic figures (a reference to the Greek poet Anacreaon, whose love poems addressing both men and women had been repeatedly invoked by Winckelmann to exemplify Greek ideals and were fashionable at this time). Although histories of the French Revolution are often illustrated with period paintings of warriors, exhibition records reveal that Anacreontic nudes, emblems of romantic love, were far more popular subjects during the Revolution and after.”

—Christopher Reed, Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas (pg. 64). [emphasis added]

Happy birthday to His Royal Hotness Prince Rupert of the Rhine, who was born in Prague on this day in 1619. The epitome of Cavalier dash, bravado and glamour, Rupert is best known for fighting against Parliamentarian forces for his uncle Charles I during the English Civil War and became something of a hero to the royalist forces and an anathema to the Parliamentarian side.