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Polygamy can be seen in many works of art from a variety of different artists and styles of art. Using the concepts we have learned in this class about fitness and sex selection, we can understand the reasoning behind this type of artwork.
“Fitness is the measure of the contribution of a genotype to the gene pool of the next generation” Because it takes time and energy for females to reproduce, they are limited in the number of offspring they can have. Males can reproduce any time they have sex and it doesn’t have the same time and energy requirements. Therefore it is more beneficial for males to mate with many females in order leave behind more offspring. Biological Bases for Polygamy
In The Red Queen, Matt Ridley states “[the male peacock] loses nothing and gains much by mating with every female that comes along; she loses time and energy for a futile gain.” The Red Queen
Polygamy has been seen in many different types of art, but it was been especially prevalent in paintings and sculptures. Polygamy was practiced by humans, even before Darwin’s theory of evolution. Whether this was a conscious effort on the part of males to leave behind more offspring or unconscious tendencies, artists have used this practice in many of their works. Polygamy in Artwork
Abduction of the Daughters of Leucippus Artist: Peter Paul Rubens (1618)
Artist: Gianlorenzo Bernini (1636-38) Bernini's assistant’s wife and his lover is depicted in this bust Bust of CostanzaBonanelli
Rape of the Sabine Women Artist: Nicolas Poussin (1634-35) Roman men acquired wives from the neighboring Sabine families. The women gave themselves to bring peace
Apollo and Daphne Artist: Gianlorenzo Bernini (1622-25) Apollo is lusting after Daphne Daphne turns into tree to get away
Danae Artist: Rembrandt 1636 The king was told if his wife Danae had a son that the son would eventually kill him. Danae is put in tower Jupiter comes and sleeps with her and she becomes pregnant with Percious The king dies
The Swing Artist: Jean-Honore Fragonard (1767-68) The Husband is pushing the swing while The Lover is looking of the skirt
Painted on: The Farnese Gallery Ceiling (1597-1600) Polyphemus was trying to seduce the sea nymph Galate Polyphemus and Galatea