A Visit to the Gallery

Two women on a settee dressed in elegant 19th century attire, one holding a fan and the other a parasol, while another richly clad woman leans in close beside them, in a lavishly decorated interior setting with ornately carved gilded walls, a large mirror above the settee, inlaid marble floor, and large vases to either side of the settee. In the center of the room is a sculpture of the Medici Venus on a pedestal with her back to the viewer, her reflection evident in the mirror. Between the base of the sculpture and the viewer is an elaborately carved gilt stool covered with rich red fabric. Beside the sculpture, another woman holding a book walks towards the cluster of women.
Pier Celestino Gilardi
1877
Elegantly dressed women in 19th century attire whisper and titter about the sculpture of Venus de’Medici in the center of the room, depicting the goddess in a fleeting pose as she unsuccessfully attempts to cover her nude body with her arms in a gesture of modesty. Gilardi, who places Venus’s back to the viewer, cleverly reveals her front side reflected in a mirror above a settee upon which the women are seated, enabling the viewer to see both the expressions of the women and what it is they are whispering about, creating a witty commentary on the prudish social mores of 19th century puritanical society.
Bequest of Henry C. Lewis
1895.94
Monday, August 20, 2018