Erotic Death in Victorian Art and Fashion
Observatory (543 Union St., Brooklyn)
The Victorians had a different relationship to the dead body and dying than we do today. Painters in the late-Romantic style created beautiful men and women ravaged by death; they depicted dying as a moment of climax and aesthetic perfection. Locks of hair were snipped from the corpse and woven into jewelry: a form of mourning that revered the body and its parts, even after death. Body-part stories told of the deep desire to possess the pieces of the famous dead. We will look at some of these paintings and objects, with a view toward recuperating this willingness to dwell with loss itself, to linger over the evidence of death’s presence woven into the texture of life.