Dear guests, I bring you now — for the first time anywhere — the cover of How To Be a Proper Lady, coming June 26.
This glorious cover — so completely perfect for Jin and Viola — inspires me today to wax eloquent on The History of Man Chest Art.
Man Chest Art goes back to “the dawn of time.” (That quote is from my history class undergraduates, by the way, for which I give them very poor grades.) Take this cave painting discovered in Altamira, Spain, for instance:
Just look at those fantastic four packs! (Back in the Ice Age they didn’t have those little plastic six-pack holders, because, well, plastic. Anyway, a man could only reasonably carry two cans of beer in each hand at a time. Thus, four-pack abs instead of six-pack abs.)
[Note: I am a Professional Historian. I know these things.]
Then there were the Greeks, of course (because the Greeks always come into every conversation if you chat for long enough. Go ahead. Try it some time. Start with some really innocuous topic — like breakfast cereal. Mark my words, within an hour someone will mention the Greeks. Or is that Kevin Bacon?) And speaking of meat, the ancient Greeks adored Man Chest Art.
The Greeks made lots and lots and lots of Man Chest Art that the Romans then copied because there was only one thing Romans loved more than Man Chest Art: the Greeks. (See? Back to the Greeks. I told you.)
Actually, I made that up. The Romans were insanely jealous of the Greeks so they conquered them then copied all their best art and pantheon and empire and Other Important Things Like That.
(Incidentally, like the Greeks, the Romans also liked heaving bosom art. But really incidentally, because this post isn’t about heaving bosoms [which is why this bit is in parentheses, obviously]. So refocus, kay? Here’s some inspiration to help with that.)
More recently (roughly five hundred years ago, so not exactly recent, though in geological terms it was just this morning), Michelangelo Buonarroti simply adored creating Man Chest Art.
Here’s another Michelangelo, this one from 1505, shifting us from stone to a softer medium, though I will venture to note the obvious: THERE IS NOTHING SOFT ABOUT THIS MAN.
Finally, just a bit later (the aforementioned five hundred years-or-so-ish), romance novel publishers started producing Man Chest Art with vim and vigor. And what vim! What vigor! A few cases in point, beginning with our lovely Sarah’s St. John.
And since men with ink are my secret weakness (though I suppose it’s not so secret anymore… now… er…), I bring you Maya Rodale’s Sebastian, the Duke of Wycliff.
Lest we ignore the flip side — literally — I invite you to feast your eyes on my favorite Man Back cover of all time, featuring Miranda’s delectable Cain.
So there you have it. Man Chests are an old and venerable artistic tradition. I hope your Saturday is now as inspired as mine.
And speaking of man chests, the first chapters of How To Be a Proper Lady are now posted on my website. There’s nothing like a gorgeously ripped sailor… in the rain… tied up… to inspire a lady to undress him. Enjoy!
What is your favorite example of Man Chest Art — from any century?