Gorilla: Why and How

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Brian Dunce PS will talk about the inspiration for his large-scale pastel work Gorilla, on display in the Annual Exhibition, which is an exploration of the three paintings: Sleeping Venus by Giorgione and Titian (c.1508-10), Venus of Urbino by Titian (1538) and Olympia by Manet (1863).

The model who posed for Manet, Victorine Meurent, was savagely maligned at the time by art critics and referred to as a ‘yellow gorilla'.   

Meurent was a working class woman of 19 when she posed in 1860's Paris and aspired to become a painter, a profession that was only really accessible to very affluent women at that time. Meurent showed self-portraits and figure paintings in the Salon, with work still held in public collections.

Brian says, "I was intrigued when first seeing the painting, on an early visit to Jeu de Paume at about 14, only a few years younger than when she modelled. I have tried to unpack the meaning of the flowers and the gestures, but also provoked the implicit presence of the Giorgione and Titian Venus paintings which preceded and influenced Manet. I felt that she had been given a harsh press at the time, which has continued until quite recently in historical terms, and that in this modest work of mine, perhaps it could rehabilitate her character a little.”

Image: Brian Dunce PS, Gorilla