If you’ve been scrolling around the neighborhood of late, you’d be hard pressed to miss mentions of how Richard Armitage is knocking it out of the park as Francis Dolarhyde on NBC’s Hannibal. I don’t really have more to add to the general Hannibal discussion, but I will be tapping on a few Hannibal images herein…nothing gory, but there is quite likely to be quite a bit of skin. (Tattooed or otherwise…)
Before I get to the main event though, I thought I might also revisit an issue that I brought up way back when in the infancy of Ancient Armitage…artistic nudity. In this link to my 3rd blog post, I pointed out that nudity figures heavily in the art of the ancient world, that it will appear here frequently, and that is that. I think at this point, I can openly point to a fact that I was thinking at the time…namely, artistic nudity on the part of Richard Armitage is also fair game for discussion.
Back in the day (I’m trying that out…it’s a favorite of my students…I’m not sold) there were heated discussions about how it was disrespectful or voyeuristic or objectifying or whatever pejorative adjective fit the tone of the day to comment at any length (or at all) on Richard Armitage’s on screen nudity. I haven’t seen much of this since some poo-pooing about a few comments made about the shirtless bit in The Crucible, but given the amount of nudity in his portrayal of Francis Dolarhyde, I think it is safe to say once and for all, that Richard Armitage is not particularly bothered by appearing nude on screen…perhaps apart from a desire to look his best…and he is very well aware that everyone can see him. That is…he accepts and embraces that in some roles, his body, with or without clothing, is a potent part of his art form. We’re not talking about personal pictures taken with a long lens through the blinds of his home…we’re talking about displays which are part of a larger context of public performances…ie he knows he’s nude, he knows people are watching. Moreover, as a performer, he *hopes* people are watching.
By incorporating it as an artistic element, his body, how it looks, how it moves, how it evokes, is as much a part of his performance as his voice or his facial expressions, and as such is open for discussion as far as I’m concerned. Although it certainly happens from time to time, and I’m not convinced that this is earth shattering in any way, discussions on the topic are not by definition prurient, disrespectful, objectifying, voyeuristic or whatever. So there you have it. If discussions that possibly touch on Richard Armitage au naturel are not your thing, that’s fine too…
Now that the preamble is on the books, let’s get to the good stuff!
I was scrolling through the image gallery of this incredible exhibit…(I’ve mentioned that ancient bronzes are really rare right? This exhibit has a good percentage of those currently extant…including a fave of mine.) when I came across a bronze I’d never seen before…
Isn’t he spectacular? If you look closely, you can see even more amazingly, that he’s been painstakingly reconstructed from the hundreds of tiny pieces that he was found in at Ephesus, Turkey in 1896. He is of a type of sculpture known as an Apoxyomenos or scraper….a nude athlete who is in the act of scraping the dirt and sweat from his body using an implement called a strigil (lost from his hands) At 193 cm (6’3″) he is described as being slightly over life size in ancient terms. I could not help but notice that he is pretty much exactly life size in comparison to a certain nearly naked someone.
I love how he’s even nicely positioned himself in almost the same way as the Apoxyomenos…it makes 1:1 comparisons ever so much easier! (Thanks to jholland for having just the right screen cap for me to borrow!!) Broad shoulders, defined deltoids and biceps, sculpted pectorals, taut, but not quite six-pack abdomen, lean waist, long, long, lean legs, more heavily muscled at the thigh than the calf…(I cannot speak to the bits covered by cloth here…) It’s a striking physical similarity. Francis Dolarhyde, as written by Tom Harris and portrayed by Richard Armitage is a fitness buff…a man who pushes the physical limitations of his body to build its strength and power. The art historical discussions of the Apoxymenos have identified his body as most similar to that of an ancient boxer…another powerful physique.
As striking as the comparisons of physicality between the two are, that isn’t what first drew my attention. In fact, the image from the exhibit catalog that first caught my eye was a detail of the head
This chin down, eyes down pose is one that has hit me in the feels before…what is he thinking about?
This is also a position that Richard Armitage uses to great effect in both print and film media. It silently communicates pensiveness, contemplation, perhaps hesitance? There are scenes, especially those with Reba in E10 where this pose is used with heart wrenching success. All in all, I find a whole lot to compare between these two works of art.
Still don’t see it?
How about now?
ὅ παῖς καλός!