This is finally it, the moment my expensive education in art history and career as a critic has been leading up to for all these years, the culmination of more than a decade of dedication, education and passion: I counted all the butts in paintings in the National Gallery. My career has peaked.
First of all, the stats: there are, by my count, 35 fully nude bums in paintings in the National Gallery. I’m talking both cheeks here. From paupers to cherubs, baby Jesuses to Greek gods, that’s a lot of derrières. The gallery with the most posteriors is room nine, which features at least seven tuchuses. Some rooms have zero ass. Avoid landscape painting if you’re looking for cheek action: that’s some free advice for ya.
But for the absolute best rears in the National Gallery – the top of the bottoms, so to speak – I have decided to include non-nudes. Sometimes, a pert peach in a snug pair of seventeenth-century britches has more going for it than a mountain of bare Rubenesque flesh. So without further ado, here are the nine best bums in the National Gallery. It has been a really slow month.
1. Diego Velázquez, ‘The Rokeby Venus’. Putting the ‘ass’ in Vel-ass-quez.
2. Damiano Mazza, ‘ The Rape of Ganymede’. Ass-tounding.
3. Luca Giordano, ‘Perseus Turning Phineas and His Followers to Stone’. You’ve heard of rock-hard abs, well how about a rock-hard tush? You don’t even need to work out to get one, just have Medusa give you a sly glance. Spect-ass-ular.
4. Paul Cézanne, ‘Bathers’. I’m pretty sure that the correct term for a group of four or more bums is a ‘buttload’.
5. Théodore Géricault, ‘A Shipwreck’. Uh oh, little bit more than just bum peeking out there! Censor this one for the kiddies.
6. Francois Boucher, ‘Pan and Syrinx’. Butt dimples? Bum-believable.
7. Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo, ‘The Martyrdom of St Sebastian’ (detail). Very possibly the most needless character in any painting, ever. This guy is there for his heinie and nothing else. Imagine the model going: ‘Maestros, would you like me to pose so you can paint my face too?’. ‘Nope, the way you’re stood is PERFECT!’
8. Pontormo, ‘Joseph Sold to Potiphar’. The guy on the left is packing so much heat into those peach-coloured tights that the guy down to his right is literally trying to look THROUGH his legs and back up at his caboose. That’s when you know you’ve got buns to die for, when people will try to bend the laws of physics to get an eyeful. Wow.
9. Unknown French artist, ‘An Academie’. Very impr-ass-ive.
That’s quite enough of that. Find art without bums here.