In the Secession’s main gallery, the American artist R. H. Quaytman has developed a frieze comprising twenty-two paintings on wood panels titled An Evening. Chapter 32. These paintings are placed on two walls that form a forty-five-degree angle. The combined measurements of the two walls equal the length of Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze, which the artist references in various ways for this chapter. Like the architectural plans for several previous exhibitions, this configuration is based on the figure of the open book and reinforces one-point perspective.
In addition to referencing the site of the Secession, Quaytman used two paintings by the Flemish Artist Otto van Veen (1556–1629) as points of departure – The Persian Women and Amazons and Scythians, both in the collections of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. After viewing these unusual and germane works in the restoration rooms at the KHM, Quaytman contributed financially to their restoration in exchange for access to photograph and the permission to include The Persian Women in this exhibition. The other painting, Amazons and Scythians, is currently on view in the KHM’s exhibition devoted to van Veen’s student Rubens.
The Persian Women depicts an anecdote in Plutarch’s Bravery of Women in which the women resort to a gesture of self-exposure upon discovering that their men are losing the battle for the city. Trying to return to their citadel, the defeated soldiers encounter all the women of their homes, who expose their genitals while shouting “Whither are you rushing so fast, you biggest cowards in the whole world? Surely you cannot, in your flight, slink in here whence you came forth.” Shocked by this sight and mortified by these words the soldiers are forced to return to battle to vanquish the enemy.