Nowadays, not wearing underpants is a statement. It’s an act of seduction or daring or extreme forgetfulness. Going commando is whispered and giggled about. It’s funny and possibly sexy and definitely out of the ordinary. However, in the 18th century, respectable women didn’t wear pants, only whores did.
The first time I saw that ruffian he had his hands tied in front of him. He was clutching a little wooden crucifix. Even from that distance I could see he was shaking, but as a painter what interested me most was the contrast between his skin – they had stripped him to the waist – and the dark tunic and hood of the executioner. I remember thinking that if it weren’t for that trembling he would have made me a magnificent martyr – St. Lawrence lashed to his gridiron, or St. John in his pot of boiling oil.’
‘And your name?’