I'm feeling a bit under-the-weather today, so instead of plotting an exciting new post, I thought I would just post some images I've been collecting by one of my favorite artists, Fernand Khnopff. Khnopff was a Belgian artist who had quite a cult following during the 1890's. In some respects he reminds me of Felicien Rops, another Symbolist artist I've written about previously. Both artists had a knack for portraying women as beautiful, yet strangely eerie and foreboding.
He was also fond of imagining his female subjects as animals, as you can see in his most famous image, "The Caress" [above]. It was not uncommon during this period to see women in art and literature associated with primal urges and bestial tendencies.
"Istar" [left], and "Listening to Flowers" [right]
"Young English Woman"
Of course, I particularly love this piece depicting a woman smoking a cigarette ["The Cigarette, 1912]. As I've mentioned before, there is something so fascinating to me about images of women and cigarettes from this period -- it would have been considered quite taboo at the time, because it was a habit only considered acceptable for men!
"Who Shall Deliver Me?" [from the poem by Christina Rossetti].
"Head of a Woman"
"Study of a Woman"
...or is it two women? Doubling was a common theme among late Victorian artists, as well. Women were often depicted kissing, staring at, even fondling their own image in mirrors. Khnopff's version here seems ambivalent -- are there two women or is this a fantasy in which the mirror-image has a will of its own? Some critics argue that these double-images represent women as narcissistic, egoistic, and incapable of loving any person other than themselves...what is your take??