Friday, September 25, 2020

This was Hermann Heid's take on a stance used by Marconi, Igout, and probably others.
After all this time, I haven't figured out what it means, but it looks like he's hailing a taxi.



  1. Yes, this is a time-honoured and very familiar stance, used by many in the latter part of the 19th century with the rise of photography. Bear with me, I think I may have an explanation.

    The theory of scientific materialism took hold in the 1840s, and Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection - "On the Origin of Species" published 1859 - provoked a colossal and divisive crisis of Christian faith in the Western world. If you go to the Natural History Museum in Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, you cannot help but be struck by its revivalist Romanesque architecture, which was deliberately used by architect Alfred Waterhouse to conjure up a "cathedral to nature". The entrance hall is striking for its resemblance to a nave, steps at the far end - in imitation as it were of the steps leading up to a high altar - rising up in fact to a statue of Charles Darwin himself as an ensconced, secular saint.

    Scientific materialism promised to liberate humanity from disease, poverty and superstition, and proposed an entirely rational, empirically observed, scientific origin for life and human nature.

    Photography was merely one bi-product of the rise of what became known as Scientism. It has been said that emulation is the sincerest form of flattery but it can also become ridicule and I have always imagined this pose to be a parody of a pontifical or priestly blessing - not that I can very easily imagine the Pontifex Maximus without his drawers any more than I have ever heard a London taxi driver saying, "I 'ad the pope in the back of my cab once" - unlike the Shah of Iran.

    1. I've been to the Natural History Museum in London, and I agree with your comparison to a cathedral. The model does look a bit pontifical, too.

    2. My take on this pose is that it was used numerous times in 19th century art. There were countless mediocre oil paintings, prints, chromolithographs, etc., hung in countless Victorian and Edwardian bedrooms of a dewy-eyed and pink- cheeked Christ blessing the multitudes, or blessing something. That raised hand was used in many of them. The model himself looks like a Christ figure with his beard and longish hair. A dead ringer in fact, except for his very nicely displayed penis. I wish I got to gaze upon THAT as a kid while sitting through Cathechism class!

    3. Well, somehow I missed the obvious Jesus reference. Thanks!

  2. This is gorgeous. I'm going with the Christ-like concept. A naked human male standing in for Christ as a sort of everyman. At some point I hope to explore religious life poses.