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Twisted Tales

Until about 1900, European artists spent a lot of time illustrating Bible stories and classical myths. Sometimes a patron would control exactly how the story was told. Sometimes artists could add their own interpretation to a story. They might give the characters fancy hats, add some extra symbolism, or even redirect your sympathy. They didn't usually change the basic plot of the story they were illustrating. Indeed tampering with Bible stories would have been extremely dangerous in most of Europe until fairly recently. Occasionally the classics did get reworked, and these are two of my favourite examples, both by nineteenth century French artists. 

Gustave Doré was a prolific engraver, who illustrated the myth of Perseus and Andromeda several times in the conventional way. He also made two engravings entitled Perseus Comes Too Late, in which the dragon gets his dinner.

Alphonse Thabard was a neo-classical sculptor. In his day he seems to have been a successful artist, but he is now largely forgotten. In 1889 he made a marble sculpture for the town hall of his native Limoges called Le Vainqueur (The Victor). It appears to show Ganymede getting the best of serial rapist Zeus, who is on the point of having his neck broken. Not before time, I think!

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