Apr 16, 2014

The Russian Beefcake Museum: Male Nudity in The Hermitage

When we visited Jaan in Estonia in the summer of 1998, we spent three days in St. Petersburg, Russia, where Yuri went to college.  But most of our time was spent walking around the campus of the Polytechnic University, having closeted conversations with his old friends at a straight bar across from Sosnovka Park, and, since he wasn't yet out when he was a student, checking out the rather limited gay scene ( a few bars, one with naked dancers, another with a dark room).

So we only had a couple of hours to tour the Hermitage.

You should devote at least a week.

It's the oldest and one of the largest museums in the world, founded by Catherine the Great in 1764.

The main building, the Winter Palace, was the residence of Russian kings and queens from 1732 to the Russian Revolution. Greek and Roman art, anthropological finds from the Altai cultures, Asian art, modern American art, entire galleries devoted to Titian, Van Dyck, Monet, and Picasso.

When -- and if -- you finish with the Winter Palace, you have to tour the collections of Menshikov Palace.  And the Old Hermitage, the New Hermitage, the General Staff Building, and the Hermitage Theater.

Here are just a few of the pieces of interest for connoisseurs of beefcake:

1. Laocoon (1789), by Paolo Andrea Trisconi.  In Greek mythology, Laocoon defined the god Poseidon by having sex on sacred ground, so a sea monster killed him and his sons.  Who were naked at the time.

2. The Farnese Hercules, left.  An 18th century copy of the ancient original, one of the more muscular Hercules around.

3. Crouching Boy (c. 1530), by Michelangelo.  A very muscular boy, originally designed for the Medici Chapel in Florence. No one knows what he's doing; it looks like he's tying his shoe.

4. St. Sebastian (1570-72), by Titian.  The martyred saint is always a good subject for homoerotic art.

5. Daedalus and Icarus (1645), by Charles Lebrun (left). The master inventor is attaching wings to his nude, muscular son so he can take a fatal flight into space.

6. Mercurius (1662), the Greek god Mercury, by Flemish sculptor Artus Quellinus.

More after the break

7. The Death of Adonis (1709), by Giuseppe Mazzuola. The ancient Greek "God of Beauty" is about to be gored to death by a boar, in one of the most famous symbolic sexual assaults in history.

8. Bathers (1890-91), by Cezanne.  He painted a number of scenes of bathers, but this is the only all-male depiction.

9. Nude Boy (1906), by Picasso, when he was still drawing realistic portraits.

10. Faun with a Flute (1980), by Augusto Murer, the Italian artist whose works often tend toward the homoerotic.

If you don't have time to go to St. Petersburg, you can take a virtual tour and browse through the galleries at your leisure.

And don't forget Peterhof Palace.

See also: Cruising a Swedish bodybuilder in a dark room in Tallinn; and the Top 12 Public Penises of Russia