Five years into Nero’s reign as emperor, he had his mother murdered. It was all downhill from there: Rome burned, and so did many Christians.
How Perseus came to behead Medusa, and how her head restored order to the worst wedding reception ever. In paint, of course.
Paintings of gladiatorial combat and martyrdom in the Colosseum had also been quite different before Gérôme’s ‘Ave Caesar’. Examples from Artemisia Gentileschi and others.
She has been a symbol of French nationalism, of the revanchism following the Franco-Prussian War, and then of early feminism: some wonderful paintings of Joan’s divine visions.
Not just superb paintings, but one of the great visual tropes of Western art, and one of the best wedding speeches ever.