Charles Martin Hardie’s 1899 painting Curling at Carsebreck may look like an undifferentiated crowd scene. However, each of the curlers in the foreground actually represents a specific member of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.
As the National Galleries of Scotland write, “[i]n 1899 the Royal Caledonian Curling Club celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. This picture was commissioned to celebrate the event.”
And celebrate they do—visible on the edge of the ice is a basket full of bottles of wine.
But first a game; two houses—the concentric-ringed “targets” on either end of the playing sheet—are just visible, etched into the ice. On the farther of the two, a thrower has just thrown the stone; on the nearer, a skip marks the point his teammate should aim for with his broom.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema painted Women of Amphissa in 1887.
Guy Hedreen wrote a full account of the anecdote from Plutarch’s writings that inspired the work in an article in the Journal of the Walters Art Gallery: essentially, a group of Thyiades (priestesses of Dionysus), became lost while performing a rite and ended up in Amphissa, a town near Delphi. In lieu of a better spot, they all slept in the marketplace—where the women of the town found them in the morning. Concerned for the priestesses’ safety in a time of war, the Amphissan women encircled the sleeping priestesses until they awoke—at which point the women of the town fed them, and then led them out of town.
Though the Dionysian priestesses all possess an air of self-assured languor, taking up space and making bold eye contact (even, in one case, with the viewer), the expressions of their demure proctectresses run the gamut from maternal to wary. One woman bends smilingly to talk to a cross-legged Thyiad, while another—also bending, in her case to proffer food—looks watchfully across the market.