Thursday, December 16, 2010

The perils of an unmade bed

Le lit défait by Eugene Delacroix
Réunion des musées nationaux

I was intrigued to read some time ago a tale concerning Delacroix's youthful work, The Unmade Bed, which I have never come across elsewhere.
As Sacha Guitry tells it, he had his sights set on purchasing the painting when it came up at auction. He fully intended to do his utmost to acquire the work, until he was dissuaded by a  friend in-the-know who explained that no one had been able to keep the painting, and if Guitry were to buy it, he would surely get rid of it in a month's time. Five times already, the friend explained, the watercolor had changed owners in recent years.  The reason? Hidden in the tousled folds of the bed's crumpled sheets - wherein lies all the painting's considerable charm - appears a head of Medusa. 'Once you have noticed it, you won't be able to look at anything else,' claimed the expert. Guitry heeded his friend's advice and did not even bid on the painting. He realised that, very quickly, such a feature would become an obsession and that he would no longer be able to relish the sensuous composition with his eyes returning over and over to that one irresistible form.
It took me some time to find the head. Now I see at least two.


  1. ok, this was the reason i was a little afraid to post a picture of my "lit defait". what is the blogworld going to find in mine????

    loved the post office post. as IF americans would ever do such a nice job with a post office!

    i would also love it if you got me something from serendipity (lucky you passing every day) but really not so necessary.


  2. What an awful thought; I couldn't live with it either!

  3. I think I would try to get over it-or embrace it!

  4. Mlle, Alaine, LittleA: Thanks for your comments. I'm wondering have you found it? In general I like things with a creepy edge, but this one really chills. Its something about the sensuous side that lets it sneak up on you, then clobber you over the head. I'd want to embrace it, as you say, LittleA, but I'm not so sure...

  5. If it is just under the folded over covers of the pillow- to back.

  6. That was quick -thanks! There is also a flayed face at the foot of the bed and an agonizing mouth in the front near the head, a clutching hand on the side...this bed needs an exorcist.

  7. How fascinating - like Borges's story 'The Zahir', in visual form. But it was probably just Guitry's witty, esprit-esque way of saying that the market had got tired of this painting because it had come up at auction too often :)

  8. Sounds like a good story for me! True that Guitry was a master at jeu d'esprit. Maybe he was afraid this painting would put him at wits’ end!

  9. Delacroix was a hottie and on principle I acquire their works. But I'm with LA. A connoisseur who can't embrace Medusa is no friend of art. Besides, recall your "Quiet Man," and Barry Fitzgerald on the marriage bed:
    "Impetuous .. Homeric!"

    Merry Christmas to you.

  10. That's why I hate to make never know what's going to crop up!

    Thank you for stopping by the lake. I've added you to Lindaraxa's blogroll where I feel you will be happier amongst mutual friends. Love your blog.

  11. Laurent: I suppose he felt he had already embraced enough medusas who had nothing to do with art works. A very merry Christmas to you, too!

    Lindaraxa: Thank you very much. It’s a great pleasure to stop by the lake where things are always to my taste!!

  12. that is so crazy.
    i looked,
    did not see it.
    i will be obsessing over this until
    i find it.

    merry merry
    hugs xxxx

  13. Delacroix n'est pas qu'un grand peintre, il a aussi écrit "son journal" qui est un des plus beau livre que je connaisse…

  14. Very intriguing. I am afraid it would consume me and that I would not be able to keep from gazing at it!

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    Joyeaux Noel!

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