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Qui veut la peau de Vénus ?

Bruno Nassim Aboudrar

It is one of Velazquez’s masterpieces – and also a mystery: his only nude, sensual, very different from the moral canons of the Royal Courts in the Spanish Golden Age. This Rokeby Venus , painted during a rather libertine year in Rome (1650), had a very strange destiny. Aside from a list of highly original owners (among them the duchess of Alba, Goya’s mistress), it was lacerated in June 1914by suffragette Mary Richardson (the same one who shortly after was attracted by English fascism as seen by Oswald Mosely), at the National Gallery. This attack is the plot of the book, and gives us the opportunity to follow the painting’s history. Who was this greatly surprising painting done for? Why did it create such hate among the feminist movement? How was it restored, and what was discovered when it was? Among the clues that allowed experts to date it without a doubt, the presence of azurite from Hungary, then under Ottoman domination, is a new mystery.

Qui veut la peau de Vénus ?, by Bruno Nassim Aboudrar, Flammarion, 2016, 260 p., €20.

Qui veut la peau de Vénus ? - Bruno Nassim Aboudrar

Review published in the newsletter #432 - from 26 May 2016 to 1 June 2016

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