Hylas Surprised by the Naiades

Hylas surprised by the Naiades, by John Gibson, is a sculpture which I loved when I first saw it, and I was delighted to find it back on permanent exhibition. So I now have my own photos of it.

Technically, it is amazing. Consider the delicate way the hair curls on her neck:

Hylas surprised by the Naiades 11, the delicate curling hair

And the pressure of their fingers on his skin:

Hylas surprised by the Naiades 10, the drape of the cloth and the pressure of the fingers in the flesh

and the way the cloth drapes and flows:

Hylas surprised by the Naiades 12, the drape of the cloth

And then, see her hand on his face:

Hylas surprised by the Naiades, her hand on his face

Hylas surprised by the Naiades 2

Hylas surprised by the Naiades 3 Hylas surprised by the Naiades 4 Hylas surprised by the Naiades 5 Hylas surprised by the Naiades 6 Hylas surprised by the Naiades 7 Hylas surprised by the Naiades 8 Hylas surprised by the Naiades 9

8 thoughts on “Hylas Surprised by the Naiades

  1. Not my thing. To be honest, the smallest one makes me kind of creeped out. Couple, fine. But if it’s a pubescent hoy (which was common in ancient cultures like Greeks), but aesthetically and technical,y, like you said was very well done.

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    • That is the problem, isn’t it. It creeps you out.

      You see, it expresses my sexuality. I want to relate to a woman as the boy here relates to his captors. This is culturally non-standard.

      I don’t want it done non-consensually or to a child. But I look past the fact that the image shows a child.

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      • I am soooooo sorry for offending you! I didn’t realise the symbolism of it, just the boy who looked like he was barely in puberty. That was my focus. That’s what I found uncomfortable. But I get it… at least theoretically.

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        • You do not offend me. You are right! It is shocking, two women abducting a boy, for sexual purposes. Even identifying with the boy I find it uncomfortable. I wonder how much time it took to get the angle of the neck, then the precise curve of the cheek, and think of the sculptor John Gibson living with this work, making his chisel cuts, forming the muscles and the hair. He was not shocked.

          At midnight BST I post on Bakkhai, another shocking work of art: a play in which a man’s head is ripped off (offstage) then paraded round on stage. I was that man. I was the woman who killed him. It is catharsis. Shock heals.

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