Ugly women in paintings

ImageUgly women in paintings. Why would I dedicate a blog post on ugly women? Well,… the last days the subject has gotten my attention, for I spent my Christmas attempting to avoid camera’s (and people). The reason? Nasty cold sores were trying to ruin my holidays. Really, really, nasty cold sores,…

And these cold sores made me wonder; would there be a painting of a woman with cold sores? Would it exist? It probably would be an ugly painting, and the sitter would not be pleased with the painter for neglecting to do some embellishment on her. (I sure wouldn’t!) For, especially in the baroque period, it was the painters job to adorn. But, since the painter himself is an artist, and artists not always follow rules; I found two paintings of very ugly women. And both paintings have a tale to tell.

The first is a very famous painting, painted by Quinten Matsys, although some people attributed it to Leonardo da Vinci. I unfortunately never saw the painting in real life, for it is in the collection of the National Gallery in London, and I’ve never been in London. (I know; such a shame!) This painting raised some questions. For example: who was the lady? Is the painting satirical, or did the painting resemble the truth?

In 2008, the Guardian finally revealed the answer, the mystery was solved: the woman must have been real and suffered from Paget’s disease. This disease enlarges the jaw, extends the upper lip and pushes up the nose. It was, however, a rare form of Paget’s, for it usually isn’t this bad. But nevertheless real; because, they said, the painting is given much love and attention by the painter. He sure would not have done this if he wasn’t assigned to do so. Therefore the lady should not only be real, she also should have had offered Matsys a lot of money to copy her image.

So; the mystery is solved? Not really, if you ask me,… for why would an artist only give love and attention to the painting if he’s payed to do so? Weird way of thinking,…

The other painting is one I haven’t seen either. But then again; not a lot of people have seen the painting in real life, and it isn’t worth a lot of money.  The lady on this painting does not have cold sores either. She is ugly though, but I think this is mostly due to her grumpy look. She really looks like a tart old woman.

The painting was sent to an old couple by post. No letter, just a painting of a very ugly lady. Well, how often does that happen to you? I rarely experience stuff like that. And how would you feel if you opened up the package? The woman of the house actually was horrified. She did not want the painting in her house, so it was given a place in the garage. This doesn’t feel strange to me. I think, I too would be shocked. I would think it would be some kind of sick joke. But it probably wasn’t, for the old couple appealed the media for an answer to their questions. They wanted to know who sent them the painting. And as an answer, they found out that the lady in the painting turned out to be the great, great grandmother of the old man. Whoever sent the painting still remains a big question, however.


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