Handsome Dudes of Art History
Do you ever wish to retreat into the days of yore, when men weren't quickly put together in t-shirts and jeans? A time when gentlemen spent time on their appearance, had a certain pride in polishing those swashbuckling boots and perhaps made an extra effort to center that silken kravat? When such men could move the masses in social reform one day, fence their way out of a predicament on another, while making time for you (arriving on horseback of course; smoldering stare a bonus)?
Well I'm happy to report that these men are out there and can be found not just in a BBC miniseries or romance novel, but at your local art museum. Let's check out the fine men of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California:
Yes, the French baron is looking at YOU--swoon! A head of slightly tousled curls and that soft gaze will stop you in your tracks--skip those other military or still life paintings in the gallery. Sure he can manage that kravat bit and wear fine clothes, but those medals show us he's got heroic game too.
Ingres, Baron Joseph-Pierre Vialetes de Mortarieu, 1805-06. (This mayor of a French town also was a big arts supporter--two thumbs up!).
Are you more into the long, flowing hair type? Well, there's that kind of eye candy at the Norton Simon Museum too. Sure, we might be talking wigs here (and this is the era of the famed French King Louis XIV), but there was never a bedhead kind of day for this guy, a sculptor by profession, seemingly luring us into his studio with that gesture and glance. Watch out--he looks as smooth as the satin he's wearing...
Nicolas de Largilliere, Pierre Lepautre, Sculptor, 1689.
Here's a period selfie, by French Rococo painter Maurice Quentin de La Tour. Imagine this as his profile pic on an online singles site with that gleam in the eye and slight grin on his face. This is a guy you'd spent a first date with in peels of laughter as he shares the latest gossip about the French court.
La Tour, Self-Portrait, 1764
Well hello, James Franco, and how did you come to find yourself in a 19th century Renoir painting? Oh those wigs are at last gone in this era of the French Impressionists, and facial hair is most definitely in. I'd like to imagine this group of men having a discussion about arts and culture.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, At Renoir's Home, rue St-Georges, 1876.
Favor a steely chin? Multi-faceted? Well Paul Klee has a couple of faces to choose from here.
Paul Klee, Two Heads, 1932
Oh Adam. clearly a David Beckam-like six-pack was not in your portrait destiny as envisioned by this Renaissance German artist. I'm glad you had Eve...bless her for putting up with those toes.
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Adam, c. 1530