Plot & Details
Originally produced for the Showtime anthology series Picture Windows and screened at the Cannes Film Festival, this whimsical British short speculates upon the origins of the anonymous painting, Two Nudes Bathing, which hangs in the Louvre. The painting depicts two beautiful, naked young women engaged in a tender act. The tale begins as a portrait painter makes his way to the home of the parsimonious Comte (John Hurt) who wants his daughters painted fully clothed, in stately fashion. One of the women is preparing to marry. Comte wants to remember them as they are, pure, beautiful, and unsullied by the touch of a man. For years he has been obsessed with guarding their virginity, and even though he commissions the painter to depict them, the artist is not allowed to talk to, or make eye-contact with the lovelies. While they pose, the young women are guarded by a tongueless old woman. Still, these precautions do not prevent the curious maidens from asking the artist about sex at every opportunity. At first the artist hesitates, but soon he tells them what they want to know. Though the painter involves himself with a lusty servant girl, he cannot help but spy on the maidens while they bathe. The result is the notorious painting in which the nude girls are depicted with one of them daintily holding the nipple of the other. Naturally, the finished work causes quite a stir in Comte's prudish household. Added footnote: though rumors persist of a feature-length version of this film, they are unfounded: it was originally shot and produced as a 35-minute short, and that was the version that ran and was reviewed at Cannes.