Check Out Those Balls
This work, entitled The Bowlers, was painted by Sir William Blake Richmond (1842-1921) in 1870. Richmond is most famous for designing the mosaics of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. The mosaics were commissioned in 1891 by Queen Victoria, who wanted to “brighten up” the interior of Saint Paul’s. Richmond’s designs were strongly influenced by Italian and Byzantine mosaics.
I find this painting deeply homoerotic; yet it’s not clear to me exactly how scandalous or controversial it was when it appeared. Richmond was respectable enough for Queen Victoria to hire him two decades later to work on the interior of Saint Paul’s. Perhaps the Queen understood that the best person to decorate the interior of London’s grandest church was another queen.
Who knew, moreover, that bowling could be so sexy?? I’ve only bowled a couple of times in my life and never naked. One is not likely to encounter such a scene at Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream and 20th-Century Bowling in Hyde Park (Massachusetts, not London), which features candlepin bowling and some of the best homemade ice cream around. And if you want to enjoy it naked, get it to go.