Lady Godiva (John Collier)

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Lady Godiva, 1897.

Lady Godiva is an oil painting in the Pre-Raphaelite style by John Collier, finished in 1897. The painting depicts Lady Godiva, Countess of Merciathe, and her famous nude horse ride through the city. The story is most likely a legend, as no record of it occurs until about 200 years after the event supposedly took place, but the scandalous nature of the story has kept it popular.

This painting is a guilty pleasure for me. I can't help but find Godiva's shame in riding nude through the streets with only her hair to hide her breasts erotic, but at the same time, I'm disgusted in myself for it. Collier makes the image more sexual by having Godiva saddling the horse rather than riding side-saddle the way a traditional lady of the court would. It's interesting that there isn't a peeping Tom present, although it could be implied that by us viewing the painting, we are the peeping Tom.

Aside from the main subject, the horse and city scape is exquisitely detailed.