Who was that winged man?

🐅 🐅 🐅 (three tigers for the last day of the month, ultimate August) In search — not for the first time — of an attractive image of Apollo Resplendens, I fixed on this guy, who’s only roughly one-quarter Apollo and (for my Sacred Harp purposes in the search) regrettably lacks a musical instrument:

(#1) Apollo, Mercury, Eros, and Mars (well, at least these) folded together in Richard de Chazal’s homoerotic conceptualization of the Zodiacal sign Virgo (late August through late September — like, right now), the province of people who are intelligent, analytical, and attentive to detail, but also practical and commonsensical

Apollo’s male beauty surmounted by rays of sunlight, the messenger Mercury’s wings, Eros’s wings and heart, the bellicose Mars’s bandolier and metal armguards (on his left, topman, arm). But no musicality.

Why do I care about the musicality of my Apollo figures? In my 8/29 posting “Sacred Harp numerology for my birthday”, I report on a Sunday (8/28) Sacred Harp singing in which I produced

the strongest, most sonorous singing I’ve managed in years. Utterly surprising, and totally fabulous. … Weep not for me, my friends — for a little while yesterday I was Apollo Resplendens.

I’ll get back to de Chazal in a while. First, musical Apollo and Apollo Resplendens, as represented in artworks of various kinds.

Musical Apollo. Apollo the god of the sun, music, poetry, archery, healing, and justice. With his musicality usually indicated by his lyre, and often by placing him in the company of the Muses: Clio (history), Urania (astronomy), Terpsichore (dance), Euterpe (music), Polyhymnia (hymns), Thalia (comedy), Melpomene (tragedy), Calliope (epic poetry), Erato (erotic poetry). Here we get the musicality, but not the rays of sunlight:

(#2) The central Apollo figure from Apollo and the Muses / The Parnassus (ca. 1640) by French painter and engraver Michel Dorigny (1616–65)

Apollo Resplendens. Scupture, whether classical or modern, doesn’t lend itself easily to the depiction of halos of light surrounding the heads of figures, but graphic art does. and there’s a modest body of work taking advantage of the medium. And, apparently, quite a lot of softish-pornesque depictions of Apollo as a hot stud with really big rays. As here:

(#3) Archery, but no music; the image has been reproduced in a number of places, though never attributed to a source I could find — but it’s a marvel of its type

The lyre and the nimbus, together at last. From the artist Huang Guanjian, a wildly overheated — coming from me, that’s not necessarily a criticism, it all depends on how you do it — composition that provides both the lyre of musicality and the blazing halo of sunlight, plus a whole lot more:

(#4) Now this is a fiercely beautiful god of light and power (there seems to be no Apollo Light and Power Co. anywhere, but there’s an Apollo Power and Light in Denton TX), golden-armored for battle, his arrows having felled the beast, his shoulder armor flaring out triumphantly like wings — and his golden lyre at the ready (strike your magic lyre, Apollo!)

He’s also trailing white gauzy silk (cf. #3), as a fabulous counterpoint to those abs and thighs of death and those broad shoulders. And oh, dem golden boots!

The chorus for verse 3 of the jaunty SH373 Homeward Bound (both tune and text from 1935):

Soon I will strike the heavenly lyre,
With saints of great renown,
And join that great harmon’ous choir;
Oh, I am homeward bound!

The de Chazal vision. Two previous postings on this blog:

— from my 6/6/15 posting “Seasons by Chazal”, with artwork for the four seasons; then the artist in a self-portrait, with his own blurb, verbatim, from his website:

Richard de Chazal is one of Australia’s most respected haute-couture designers, make-up artists, stylists and photographers. A member of the Australian design hall of fame and winner of numerous photographic, design and art awards, his lavish creations on the catwalks, in theatres, in the pages of magazines and calendars and on the walls of collectors globally have won him acclaim as well as outrage.

A self confessed anachronism – whilst exploring the boundaries of fashion and the archetypical symbols of beauty, sexuality and mythology – Richard’s work retains an air of mysterious nostalgia, heavily influenced by the collaborative works of Rackham, Dulac, Lord Leighton, Alma Tadema, Barbier and Gruau.

All de Chazal’s photography, including the fashion shoots, is extravagant, overheated. Earlier from him, on AZBlogX, some creations from his Zodiac series.

— from my 7/18/16 posting “The insolence and the ecstasy”:

[about:] Eros / Cupid (on one account, the son of Aphrodite / Venus). Though the two names Eros and Cupid refer to the “same” ancient deity — the winged god of love, with his bow and his arrow that inspires love (or desire) —  they tend to be pictured differently: Cupid as a cute infant, Eros as a (sexy) young man.

[a section on winged men: Eros, Zeus with Ganymede, Mercury, and then an image — #1 above — I attributed (correctly, as it turns out — well, who else does work that looks anything like this?) to art photographer Richard de Chazal

It’s on a fair number of Pinterest boards, always, so far as I can tell, unattributed, and usually labeled as an image of Apollo.

A winged Apollo was news to me, but this is cerainly a god-like figure with wings on his shoulder blades. I don’t follow all the iconography of the image, but the heart suggests that this is Eros again.

On the other hand, he has the aureole of the sun god Helios. And Apollo is the god of sun and light.

But wait! An exhaustive, image by image, search of de Chazal’s website reveals that this figure is his conception of the zodiac sign Virgo — my sign! —  which de Chazal has chosen to visualize as a sun god, akin to Helios and Apollo: he is both male (like Helios and Apollo, but unlike Virgo) and winged (rather than riding the chariot of the sun, he flies on his own power). So he’s the Eros Apollo of the Zodiac, and like his precursor gods, he’s happy with male consorts. A fine astrological deity: he flies! he fucks guys!

(de Chazal is admirably, often outrageously, queer.)

Indeed, de Chazal is also a male photographer creating complex homoerotic compositions. Collected in the lavish (and expensive) volume Luxure, originally published in 2002:

(#5) [publisher’s blurb:] In this explosive collection of imagination and eroticism, the photographs of Richard de Chazal seduce us into a world of astrology, the four seasons, and sexual obsessions. Reminiscent of the decadence of the twenties and the surrealism and extravagance of the baroque period, these images, perfect in their sheer craftsmanship, conjure up a dream-like, erotic mysticism.

Bring out your lyres! All of this is both steamy and artistically interesting, but de Chazal seems to be entirely lyre-less, and I came for the lyres as well as the golden halos. So I close with the Sacred Harp‘s other lyre song, the lovely 18th-century tune SH184 Enfield, with the text offering moonlight lyres rather than Apollo’s sunlight music:

Before the rosy dawn of day,
To thee, my God, I’ll sing;
Awake my soft and tuneful lyre
Awake each charming string:

Awake, and let Thy flowing strains
Glide through the midnight air,
While high amidst the silent orb,
The silver moon rolls clear.

Enfield is thematically tied to SH112 The Last Words of Copernicus, which contrasts the moonlight orbs with the refulgent (‘shining brightly’ — not a word you hear every day, but it fits here) orb of day:

Ye golden lamps of heav’n, farewell,
With all your feeble light;
Farewell, thou ever changing moon,
Pale empress of the night

And thou refulgent orb of day,
In brighter flames array’d;
My soul which springs beyond thy sphere,
No more demands thy aid.

That chorus is a hard-driving fuguing section, in which the altos shine through despite having only three notes to sing; their “In brighter flames array’d” is a duet with the trebles — I’m a male treble — that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Wow.

(You can read about SH112 in my 7/10/12 posting “Copernicus and Springsteen”. Yes, Bruce Springsteen.)

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