The Eye: A sad picture with a potential for scandal

Today’s artwork chosen by Lindsay Snyder

AGE: 32

OCCUPATION: Marketing

NEIGHBORHOOD: Glen Park

THE PIECE OF ART I LOVE: “The Broken Pitcher” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1891)

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PIECE? I learned from a docent that “The Broken Pitcher” is the most-purchased postcard at the Legion of Honor, which was rather intriguing to me. It made me wonder what made it so popular. The docent said that it was considered pornographic in its day because the spigot is a phallic symbol and the broken pitcher is a sign of lost virginity. I couldn’t help but think that visitors to the museum were attracted to the painting’s scandalous subject matter. But it could be that, like me, they just thought the peasant girl had a sweet face and there appeared to be something beautiful on the horizon.

HOW DID YOU DISCOVER IT? I took a tour of the permanent collection at the Legion of Honor recently and this painting was one of the docent’s favorites. She knew so many interesting details about it that I took a liking to it myself.

WHAT DO YOU MOST LIKE ABOUT IT? My favorite things about it are the girl’s droopy eyes, her wispy hair and the light that shines from behind her. To me, it’s a sad picture, but I like to think of the potential for scandal. It makes me feel like maybe the girl isn’t sad at all. Maybe she’s pleased with herself and her little secret.

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