If your library subscribes to the SCJ click here

Get ADOBE ReaderĀ® button Follow 16th Century Journal on Twitter

Journal > Volumes > 34 (2003) / 3 (Autumn)
A Painting, a Poem, and a Controversy about Women and Love in Paris in the 1530s
Beatrice H. Beech and George T Beech
Western Michigan University

Two anonymous and little known works of art from sixteenth-century France, a poem of 1545, "Les Obseques d'Amour," and a somewhat later painting now in the Louvre, Les Fun?railles de l'amour, have in common their portrayal of the funeral of Cupid, the god of love, a theme otherwise unknown at the time and one which has resisted modern attempts to explain its meaning. This article proposes that in both cases Cupid's burial is a metaphor for the rejection of carnal love by a group of Parisian women then charged with sexual immorality and that the painting is derived from the poem. The accusation and the assertion of innocence formed part of a controversy that extended back to 1529 and involved both prominent Parisian poets and wives of officials at the court of Francois I. Thus, far from being exercises in mythological fantasy, the poem and the painting reflect mundane conflict in contemporary Parisian society and are potentially important sources for the literary world and feminist debate.

Pages: 635 - 652