Yeah, you know where I’m going with this one…..One of the recurring images in the work of master 19th century artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, is a woman with a cloth strapped across her mouth, two slits in the cloth and two reed instruments inserted into the slits. She then plays both flutes at once, with one hand on each flute.
Here is an example from one of Alma-Tadema’s most famous paintings, A Dedication to Bacchus – observe the trio of women to the right side of the central figure, and the woman in the middle of that trio, playing the reed instrument.
Here a detail blowup of that area of the painting showing the player,
More on Sir Lawrence at the end of the post…and more there on the twin reed flutes instrument, or aulos.
I, of course, being ever carnally alert, immediately concluded that the symbology of the woman playing the two flutes was thinly disguised nineteenth century porn. That premise is somewhat born out by Greek history from the classical period which indicates that courtesans were the most frequent players of the instrument, and Plato associated it with the ecstatic cults of Dionysus and the Korybantes, banning it from his Republic .
Therefore I’m sure Sir Lawrence would have given us images such as this below if he were here today and unconstrained by the mores of 19th century England:
and, as all players of reed instruments know, you have to wet the reed before playing,
and when the musician is warmed up and ready,
or perhaps a fellow musician helps you with the warm-up,
why is its a veritable symphony!!!
(Check the Galleries tab/page at the top menu for a collection of some more cumshot crescendos.)
and of course there’s always someone REALLY ambitious who wants to push the flute playing envelope,
but that will take lots of practice.
Now more on Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema: he is one of the most highly renowned romantic artists of late 19th century Britain. He was born in the Netherlands as Laurens Tadema, to the family of the town notary. Later, as he tried to make his niche in the art world, he changed the spelling of his first name to the more English “Lawrence,” and included his middle name “Alma” as part of his surname: he was a practical fellow and did that so he would be listed among the “A’s” in exhibition catalogues. Kinda like all the businesses nowadays in the yellow pages such as “AAPlumbing”.
And that instrument, the aulos: usually a double, consisted of two double-reed (like an oboe) pipes, not joined but generally played with a mouth-band to hold both pipes steadily between the player’s lips.
Modern reconstructions indicate that they produced a low, clarinet-like sound, that was described as “penetrating, insisting and exciting” — perhaps more akin to that of the bagpipes, with a chanter and (modulated) drone.
Penetrating and exciting….no wonder Plato was dubious.
This image showing an aulos is in the public domain of a piece at the Louvre, entitled Banquet Euaion from the Greek classical period.
Authored by RamTheSunlover+
- In the Eye of the Collector: Désirs et Volupté at the Musée Jacquemart-André (matildabathurst.wordpress.com)
- Alma Tadema Paintings (therealcalicali.com)
- The Case of the Closely Watched Courtesans (slate.com)