I am being thuggishly ahistorical here, but to my thuggishly ahistorical eyes, there is always something completely batshit on the walls at the Frye Art Museum.

I'm not referring to provocative art in the avant-garde sense. Nope. I'm referring to paintings that almost never mean to be shocking.

I'm just shocked by the deep silliness of some of the pictures, all dolled up with their gorgeous gilt frames and formal presentations. And I'm not being dismissive. It's just that historical painting often makes me laugh. There. I said it. There's a slapstick element in attempting to look back in time, especially when the pretensions of fine art are thrown into the mix. The results can look like insipidity incarnate.

And so, it is with affection—and apologies to Franz von Stuck's mother—that I present to you yesterday's find...

Franz von Stuck, The Duel, 1907, collection of Charles and Emma Frye
  • Courtesy the Frye Art Museum
  • Franz von Stuck, The Duel, 1907, collection of Charles and Emma Frye