Mihály Zichy – Naughty Satyr (18XX)
I’m not sure I can think of another artist as gleefully transgressive as Zichy.
There are two things I find especially fascinating about his work. Zichy essentially had two styles–his sexually explicit tableaux are always equal parts humorous/playful and presented in a distinctly Renaissance style while his more exploratory sketches appear rigorously formal, reminiscent of little more than an Anatomy text. (Interestingly, if you split the difference between these two styles you stumble upon something not altogether different than the sketches of Klimt and Picasso–both who would almost certainly have been familiar with Zichy’s oeuvre. Secondly, although his fixation on male sexual response can come across as a bit grating to modern sensibilities–he acknowledges rather less than implicitly that women are not only able but should be allowed to derive pleasure from sex.
I’m not 100% certain that this image is actually called Naughty Satyr. It’s a good title though. If you remember your mythology, Satyrs were demigod drunkards. As such, Naughty Satyr is a bit rendundant. And I like to think that the reason the Satyr here is deemed naughty is not the fact that he’s sexing up this nymph, it’s that he’s enjoying her flesh and abdicating both his pleasure as well as hers up to her alone.
I would think (drunk or not) a less selfish satyr would have braced the palm of his hand on the inside of her thigh in such a way that his thumb could shuttle back and forth over her clitoris.