Step one is to see the sexual politics, but can we go beyond this? Over the years Beard has repeatedly faced down the misogyny of the media — both conventional and social. Is it just a case of exalting male desire? Against the intransigence of the male gaze, Beard pits her own, shifting perspective. One of the challenges of the subject, Beard admits, was how to place herself as the presenter. In the painting, two scheming elders loom over the naked Susanna, who has been surprised while taking a bath. Given the brickbats that Beard has suffered over the years, this challenge to the usual formalities of art scholarship is both pointed and brave. Art and design books Titian Painting Performance art features. The outcry — which even spilled into the Guardian letters page — was quite unfair, says Beard.
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