Martin van Meytens
Martin van Meytens (1695 – 1770) was a Dutch-Swedish painter who painted members of the Royal Court of Austria such as Marie Antoinette, Maria Theresa of Austria, Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, the Emperor's family and others. His painting style has inspired many other painters to paint in a similar format.
"Kneeling Nun" (c. 1731)
In circa 1731, after Martin van Meytens had settled in Vienna, he created an interesting pair of two oil paintings. The first shows a young nun kneeling with a prayer book. We also see the face of someone watching her from behind. The second painting shows the same scene, but seen from behind, i.e. from that other person's point of view. There is revealed that the nun's buttocks are in fact completely laid bare, which was not visible from the front.
Her bared buttocks probably indicate that she has been prepared to receive corporal punishment of the kind common in nunneries, but in the case of this double painting, the artist probably aimed for the erotic qualities of the scene. It is possible that the two canvases were meant to be mounted in the same frame, front and back, so that the owner could turn an unsuspicious religious artwork on his wall into a more naughty one by turning the picture around.
The two paintings are today in the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm. Meytens's bare-bottomed nun was shown in 2011 in the exhibition "Lust & Vice".
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