60 Comments
Oct 29, 2023Liked by Greg Olear

Bravo Greg! French historian by training and profession here, and I don’t think I could have written a pithier, more engaging analysis than you’ve done here. Next time I teach the late medieval era I’m definitely showing my students that Fouquet painting. Somehow I forgot how weird and wonderful it is.

Thanks for this engaging piece

Expand full comment

For such a dark story, albeit wrapped in the rich robes of royalty, it is unexpectedly uplifting. Thank you Greg for making history and art so relevant.

Expand full comment
Oct 29, 2023Liked by Greg Olear

History to the rescue!

Expand full comment
Oct 29, 2023Liked by Greg Olear

Oh Greg I’m sitting here with a smile on my face as I read this masterpiece of writing. Your first paragraph was exactly what I was thinking! I breastfed both my kids and no way in hell were my breasts looking like the artist rendition. I really do look forward to your work here and the podcast and the Five 8! Carry on!

Expand full comment
Oct 29, 2023Liked by Greg Olear

Cassidy now profits from her WH years instead of having told her story while still employed. #BigLiar 🙄

Expand full comment

Another writing masterpiece, Greg! I truly look forward to your essays, and especially treasure those that, like this one about the Material Madonna, indirectly highlight current, consonant circumstances.

Today’s article also reminded me of my long-held belief that, unlike the Bible’s premise asserting that God created mankind in his (or was it her?) own image (Genesis 1:27), mankind created an image of god (and of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, as your article substantiates ) in its own likeness. For who in Western society (or anywhere on earth, for that matter) has actually seen God? Why are representations of this deity often blue-eyed and pale-skinned? And, given the region of the world where they resided, the historical Jesus and Mary most likely would not have been white with reddish-blonde locks! While the artistry of Michelangelo and many Renaissance painters deserves utmost admiration, their inspiration was evidently limited by the mirror (or a royal mistress) that they held in front of their nose.

Expand full comment
Oct 29, 2023Liked by Greg Olear

God, I hope you're right. It all feels quite original.

Expand full comment
Oct 29, 2023Liked by Greg Olear

This idea of "been there, done that" must be floating in the air. I had one of those "lightbulb" moments yesterday. It happened in the most mediocre, ordinary way. I am currently painting our closet doors - a very tedious and frustrating task. I had one of my all-time favorite tv shows on in the background - "Third Rock from the Sun". If you don't know the premise of the show, the four main characters, Tom, Dick, Harry and Sally, are aliens who come to Earth to figure out what makes Humans so special. It mostly very silly as they are learning to fit in with Humans but it can also have very profound messages. The scene involved Harry, who is not very intelligent, being accidentally hit in the head with a cast iron frying pan several times. The first time he starts reciting something about the universe, the second time he does a song and dance, the third time he says in a southern accent, "the liberals want you to think more government will solve your problems..." Dick hits him one last time and responds by saying "I'm sorry I couldn't live with THAT!" That last line is what got me. It seems so small and insignificant but this episode was written over 27 years ago. It just reminded me that all the problems we see in the world have been happening over and over again throughout time. The "Virgin and Child" painting is so creepy. Distorted reality. A snapshot in time.

Expand full comment

Greg, I approached this great piece of writing the way I sometimes do when I'm painting, backwards or upside down, reading from bottom to top and then back again. Either way, it's a great way to look at this slice of life with all the complexities you noted. Thanks!

Expand full comment
Oct 29, 2023Liked by Greg Olear

Obviously, the abuse of women by powerful men is one of your main points in this piece, and it deserves due notice. Equality among the sexes is a societal goal I’ve aspired to, in my own little corner of the world, for my whole life; I consider myself a feminist. But before I had read to that point, while I was still pondering that truly weird painting and what caused the artist to paint it that way, I came upon the words, “his livelihood depended on the king’s patronage.” The phrase “follow the money”—uttered by so many pundits in discussing criminal investigations—came to mind. Compensation was obviously different in the fifteenth century, but people do strange things sometimes in the process of getting what they need and want. Our big brains, which give us our intelligence, also give us the ability to compartmentalize our thinking and totally ignore the portion of reality that doesn’t support what we want. I can see it operating in myself, on hopefully a small and harmless scale. I suppose on some level this capacity for justifying our actions explains even the abuse of women.

Expand full comment

😂 It’s taking me a minute to stop gleefully going over your observations (now stuck permanently in my mind) to post a comment. The red well oiled cherubs? 😳. It shades a comment you made on THEFIVE8, “There was no one to be Tsar,” and really opens some serious correct perception of why shame was a virtue of those Puritans. Not to forget…your honest commentary so reflects who we are, right now. I like how the writer of this piece is saying, hey, I really love and respect my wife, if it were the fashion and she shaved her head, so be it. What are we going to do Greg? Sometimes there’s just no one who could be Tsar? Those well oiled red cherubs, yucky, now I know more about Mr Fuck than I want to. Can you do a piece on photo of Tony Blair’s too tight pants when he visited W.Bush? Or Bill lusting after Ivanka while Hillary gives him an amused side eye the whole time? I swear you need your own table at the Algonquin. Used book stores. Back to this piece; the women were disposable a replaceable. Kind of like banning abortion? So much stays the same as you said.

Expand full comment
Oct 29, 2023Liked by Greg Olear

Haven’t enjoyed a post so much in a while. Great break from our current crop of useless men in positions of power. The world has seen such a long line of such so it’s no wonder that some will go to any lengths to keep the 90% scam going. After all, they are so entitled because they are so superior. Useless men that is. Hahaha

Expand full comment
Oct 29, 2023·edited Oct 29, 2023Liked by Greg Olear

Fun read. I hope we can end hostilities in the Middle East quicker than France-England needed for their 100 year war (where English mercenaries TERRORIZED French peasants. To this day the French consider the English their ancestral enemy, not the Germans despite 2 world wars plus others). Pronunciation of foreign names/words is always interesting. Fouquet in English may be “Fuck it”, but in French it’s

“Foo-Kay”. At the same time, the French call the Ford Focus car a Ford “Pho Q” which is a 4-letter word for hypocrite (“Q” or “cul” in French means ass)

Along these lines a friend recently pointed out that that nice French song “Dominique” by “The Singing Nun” has an interesting translation:

The first line of the chorus starts out: Dominique, nique, nique … which translates to: Dominique, fuck, fuck since nique in French slang means fuck. Her story is worth reading:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Singing_Nun

Expand full comment

"Been there; done that," indeed, Greg. Thanks!

Expand full comment
Oct 30, 2023Liked by Greg Olear

Loved every line of this. Thanks 😊

Expand full comment