Looking Queerly or Queerly-Looking?

The dynamics of looking at Abraham’s Sacrifice through the language of contemporary BDSM, which we have accomplished, conforms more to the former—“looking queerly.” The latter, “queerly-looking,” refers to how the male nude body was articulated by Maes, in a sexually provocative way. Both are important elements in visual “queering” endeavours, as the spectator engages in the queer reading through the visual details of the painting.

The accompanying essay has focused on a way of reading Maes’s artwork with a queer edge play lens, and this video will track the developments of Isaac’s figure, from sketches to painting, to see how Maes’s stylistic changes heightened the eroticization of Isaac in the form of the male nude.

Featured Artworks

Nicolaes Maes, Abraham’s Sacrifice, around 1653, oil on canvas. Purchase, Bader Acquisition Fund, 2014 (57-002)

Nicolaes Maes, Study of a reclining studio model for a ‘Sacrifice of Isaac,’ around 1653-8, pen and ink and wash, touched with red chalk. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England (DYCE.436)

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (manner of), Study for a Sacrifice of Abraham, unknown date, pen and brown ink. Louvre Museum, Paris, France (RF 4686-recto). Photo: Thierry Le Mage


The Queering the Collection series of highlights provides a platform to publish various interpretations of works in the collection that disrupt the traditional production of art canons.

Marcus Baron Young is a first-year PhD student in Cultural Studies whose research interests are rooted in visual culture and queer masculinity. For his master’s thesis, he studied the nature of fluid masculinity through the male nude bodies photographed by George Platt Lynes (1907–1955), an American fashion photographer for Vogue and other high-culture magazines. Under the mentorship of Dr Suzanne van de Meerendonk, Bader Curator of European Art, and Dr Jennifer Kennedy, Assistant Professor in Art History and Art Conservation, Young’s PhD research will inquire how queer practices of spectatorship, as methods of critical engagement, can reveal new and inclusive interpretations of historical artworks.

This collection highlight was prepared during a practicum placement supervised by Dr Sebastian De Line, Associate Curator, Care and Relations, in consultation with Dr Suzanne van de Meerendonk, Bader Curator of European Art.

Digital Project Coordinator: Danuta Sierhuis
Photography: Bernard Clark
Videography: Jay Middaugh
Wordmark Design: Vincent Perez
Motion Graphic: Tara Pelow

Funded by the Bader Legacy Fund.

All images are reproduced with the permission of the rights holders acknowledged in captions. These images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted, or manipulated without consent from the owners, who reserve all rights. Every effort has been made to identify, contact, and acknowledge copyright holders for all reproductions; additional rights holders are encouraged to contact Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
Queering the Collection Wordmark
Queen's University

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Dare de LaFemme, Rowena Whey and Tyffanie Morgan are all smiling and posing wearing their interpretations of historical garments.
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Re-patterning garments from the Dress Collection at Agnes so that any body can make the clothes, or have the clothes made, for their own body. Local drag artists show us how it can be done.

Image Credits

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