Earliest Painting of Transvestite Uncovered in British Gallery

Chevalier D'EonJeanna Bryner writes on LiveScience:

An 18th-century portrait sold in New York to a British gallery as a “woman in a feathered hat” turns out to actually portray a man dressed as a woman, becoming the earliest known painting of a transvestite.

The transvestite painting, now called the “Chevalier D’Eon,” is currently hanging in the Philip Mould Ltd. gallery in London and will possibly become a permanent feature in the British National Portraits Gallery, said art dealer and art historian Philip Mould, director of Philip Mould Ltd.

“We spent 30 years honing our skills at looking at British portraits, and you begin to spot anomalies,” Mould told LiveScience. “Portraiture, despite the diversity of odd-looking people in the world, particularly in the 19th century, before advances in cosmetic science and dentistry and medical advances had taken place, but portraiture is always extremely straight-laced.”

Read the rest at LiveScience

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40 Comments on "Earliest Painting of Transvestite Uncovered in British Gallery"

  1. “We spent 30 years honing our skills at looking at British portraits, and you begin to spot anomalies,” 

    • DeepCough | Apr 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |

      Given the history of flamboyant attire for rich Britons, I guess it took a while to spot this one.

      • Perhaps. I would not have even realized he was dressed in womens clothing if it weren’t spelled out for me.

        • Jin The Ninja | Apr 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm |

           same. i would have guessed ‘she’ was just a very homely french aristo.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Apr 25, 2012 at 11:28 am |

        Well, up until the late 20th century, western mens’ clothing has always been far more form-fitting than womens’, so I don’t think I’d ever have expected to see a man wearing this particular ensemble.  Certainly not D’Eon’s contemporaries Edmund Bourke, George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.

        But comparatively speaking, you’re correct.  Since the 16th century, womens’ costume has typically been much more ornate than mens’.  And gradually dress for both [all?] genders accross all classes has become simpler and less ostentatious.  Probably a reflection of the rhetorical, if not thoroughly practical, egalitarianism of society.  So it’s very ordinary to perceive masculine costume of previous eras as “feminine” by today’s standards.

        I believe it was the great Paul Mooney who first compared First Lady Barbara Bush to the Quaker Oats(tm) guy.  But was he satirizing the femininity of the antique fashions or the features of the contemporary subject? 


  2. I read somwhere this queen did a smashing rendition of IT’S RAINING MEN.

    • Jin The Ninja | Apr 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm |

      the majority of cis-gender men who cross dress are heterosexual. i don’t think your little* epithet applies to them.

      • are you sure?

        • Jin The Ninja | Apr 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm |

          every study on transvestism shows a majority of heterosexual men practice it more frequently than any other group.

          • where’s the links?

          • Well, then allow them into the Military. What do you think? Like all we need to do is just seem them as a conciousness rather than their physical persona. 

          • Liam_McGonagle | Apr 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm |

            You know someone with more military credentials than Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great?  Both well known for “playing for the other team”.

            Caesar re-gained entry into the hoi-paloi for his washed up patrician family by spending his youth as the boytoy of the King of Bythinia.

            Alexander the Great’s love interest in Hephaestion is an open secret.

            Come on there now, Jim.  Me thinks you doth protest too much a bit there, cowboy.

          • not at all. You guys are pissed off because I used the word fag, otherwise the the debate would have started ended with my original post! Who gives a shit if Ceasar or whoever were cross dressers , the guy in the photo looks like a fag OK.

          • Bruteloop | Apr 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm |

            No. Not pissed off you used the word. Just bored shitless with grown men (?) who hide behind keyboards and chuck out the same tired old insults. That’s why I initially asked why there was always at least one…it’s chickenshit.

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm |

             the guy in the painting was a heterosexual male. try reading the article first, because i have no idea what the f*ck you’re talking about. he dressed in women’s clothes to hide his identity because he defected to the british.

          • 99prozent | Apr 25, 2012 at 1:00 am |

            I think you mistake “transvestite” with “drag queen”. But let my favorite transvestite sort that out for you:

    • lol I’d like to see you call a Samoan cross dresser a fag, you’d get your head smashed in =)

      • aw, you guys are so sensitive. Are you guys gay? Seem to get upset about the word Fag. Look it, stop crying and tolerate differences of opinion like we all have to. Geez, 

        • Jin The Ninja | Apr 25, 2012 at 2:43 am |

          ‘fag’ doesn’t bother me at all, but then i think its use as a epiphet is so very juvenile. to denigrate those with gender or sexual identity difference is not a ‘difference of opinion,’ but the very definition of oppression.

          • I don’t think so. The problem appears to be the word “Fag” because this what you keep bringing up. Anyone can make me look bad by packaging their arguments in any fashion one wants. If it’s juvenile, then so what. The guy in the picture looks like a “fag”, I’m sorry.

            Perhaps Disinfo.com can sanitise certain words so you guys don’t get offended by words from a complete nobody. 

            fag could also mean…

            “Freedom Against Gender”

            does that tickle yer G-Spot?

          • Liam_McGonagle | Apr 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm |

            I think society may have changed a bit since you nodded off there, Rip Van Winkle.  Were you really taken aback by the reaction to your use of that term?  HONESTLY?

            Not that I hold myself forth as a model of political correctness.

            Though I don’t consider myself homophobic–or particulary interested in gender issues, pro or con–I did consider this painting funny.  My first thought was “How did anyone NOT see that as a dude in women’s clothing?”

            But as people started to post responses, it occurred to me that very few people have any interest in art history.  Yeah, big headline stuff, for sure.  Yet until then I hadn’t considered that the vast majority of folks wouldn’t be able to interpret the antique costume.

            Now, in retrospect, I imagine that there are a few regular Disinfo readers who may be shocked to learn that I found this painting funny.  Sorry to disappoint them, but that’s the truth.  Didn’t mean it as a slur against anyone’s hobbies or proclivities or whatever, ’cause as I said, I have no gender issues axe to grind.

            But for seriously, homes, did you REALLY expect people to be indifferent to the use of the word “FAG”?

          • I am not a Drone and do not expect others to be a Drone. Fag is just a word. I may have my connotations to the word itself, and others may share those same or similar connotations. Others will fly off the handle and cry foul, but who cares? Freedom of speech comes with things that people may not agree with on a personal level. Think about Freedom of Religion where there are wacko Cults or whatever even sane organised religion should and is tolerated. 

            The word Fag started the New American Revolution.

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

            you do realise the american version of freedom of speech is not universal. many many countries (western liberal ‘democracies’) have very specific laws against speech that attacks minority groups. ‘fag’ is just a word, and i’ve been saying that the entire time. the problem everyone had with it, is that you used it incorrectly, and not in context to the article.

        • What if we are gay? Do you not have the tolerance to deal with it in a polite manner?

        • I take my last comment back. I’m sure your mother is a lovely lady.

    • Bruteloop | Apr 25, 2012 at 2:32 am |

      Why is there always one that has to say ‘fag’ in any post about gay stuff? And then they always cite their right  to their ‘opinion’.
      Way to go John Wayne.
      Get a little excited when you say the word?

      • Liam_McGonagle | Apr 25, 2012 at 11:43 am |

        Well, you have to admit that it is one relatively low cost way of asserting heterosexuality that might not be able to withstand a more meaningful challenge.

        Only problem is, when a cliche gets as tired as that one seems to be, it eventually broadcasts a message 180 degrees opposite of what it intends.

      • and why do “Gays” get the Government to fight their battles for them. 

        • Jin The Ninja | Apr 25, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

           when ‘gays’ have equal rights in america, you can use that argument (and it would still seem ridiculous), but not before.

          • Can you tell me what it means to be Gay? Because I’m under the assumption it’s about sexual practices. 

          • Bruteloop | Apr 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm |

            and heterosexuality is solely about breeding and establishing the nuclear family I suppose?
            With the government never fighting any battles for them…
            what are you so scared of?

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |

            The article has nothing to do with being gay, which is the point i’ve been making.

  3. chinagreenelvis | Apr 24, 2012 at 11:33 pm |

    I thought the Mona Lisa was the oldest transvestite painting.

    • Liam_McGonagle | Apr 25, 2012 at 11:41 am |

      I totally mistook the Mona Lisa for some washed up crack hag with stringy unwashed hair and a bad case of cirrhosis of the liver until I saw a contemporaneous copy that someone has cleaned up.


      Okay, only kidding.  But only partially.  I have to admit that I found the grimed-up, jaundiced original anything but attractive or inspiring until I saw the cleaned up copy.

      I have also heard the theory that the sitter for the Mona Lisa was a man, Leonardo’s apprentice, Salai.


      That theory has a couple of very high profile proponents, but so far the consensus is strongly against it.  I tend rather to agree with the consensus, that the gender ambiguities of the subject are more a result of an idealized interpretation on the part of the painter, who was responding to 15th century aesthetic norms which fixated much more on notions of masculine rather than feminine beauty.  And possibly influenced, too, by his own homosexuality.

  4. hermaphrodite

  5. justagirl | Apr 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm |

    dudes have definitely gotten cuter over the ages.  it seems like every dude’s picture from this era has been molded out of rice pudding.  ugly mf.

  6. Hey, it was nice fencing with you guys “really” Don’t take offence ok. I’m really bored and would like the financial shit fixed(it’s really easy to fix). I”m not anti gay, I’m a Freedom of expression lover as I assume you guys are. Peace brothers and lets rip apart ideas that need to be ripped apart. Don’t really care if people are whatever, just don’t screw ones neighbor over. Lets get back to treating people with respect rather than treating people out of political correctness! Maybe it’s futile!?

  7. LjhljblbllJ | Apr 26, 2012 at 9:21 am |

    Its looks like the creme of wheat man hahahahahahahah

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