Brow Beat

A Guide to Every Work of Art in Hannah Gadsby’s Douglas

From the dog made of crayons to the penis tree.

Hannah Gadsby onstage wearing a blue jacket and striped shirt, holding a mic.
Hannah Gadsby in Douglas. Netflix

Spoilers for Hannah Gadsby’s Douglas follow.

A little over halfway through Douglas, Hannah Gadsby’s new special on Netflix, Gadsby talks about her frustrations with the ways critics attempted to classify her last special, Nanette: It was a monologue, it was a glorified TED talk, it was a one-woman show, it was a lecture. Although Gadsby allows that Nanette was technically a one-woman show, the other labels bothered her, “lecture” most of all. “It wasn’t a fucking lecture,” Gadsby says in Douglas. “You want a lecture, I’ll give you a fucking lecture. This is a lecture!” And that’s exactly what she delivers, taking the audience on a whirlwind tour of misogyny in Western art, complete with slides. It’s a blast, but Gadsby doesn’t identify any of the art she’s showing, and some of it—particularly the depictions of the Virgin Mary lactating a stream of milk across the room into the mouth of St. Bernard of Clairvaux—are not usually part of Art History 101. Here’s every piece of art featured in Douglas, plus where to find them, in case you’re planning a pilgrimage or heist.

Diane von Furstenberg Dalmatian, Herb Williams, 2015

Hannah Gadsby onstage in a still from Douglas, gesturing at a zebra-striped Dalmatian sculpture made from crayons.

Gadsby opens the show by gesturing at a sculpture of a dog onstage and exclaiming, “Look at this! Look at this! That is a dog made entirely out of crayons! I don’t need that! I’m part of the problem now!” The dog in question is part of Call of Couture, a series of dog sculptures by Nashville, Tennessee–based artist Herb Williams inspired by high fashion. Although the show is named after Gadsby’s dog, her dog is not a Dalmatian, nor is it made entirely out of crayons. See for yourself:

Douglas Illustration, Danielle Walker, 2019

A still from Douglas showing Hannah Gadsby onstage in front of a screen displaying a neon blue line sketch of her dog.

This sketch actually does seem to be of Hannah Gadsby’s dog. It’s attributed to Danielle Walker in the credits, but it’s hard to tell which one: There are several Danielle Walkers who are visual artists, plus a stand-up comedian from Australia. Given Gadsby’s feelings about the paleo diet, however, we can probably rule out Danielle Walker the cookbook author.

The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo, 1508–12

Hannah Gadsby onstage in front of a screen displaying Michelangelo's painting of God reaching out to touch Adam.

This is The Creation of Adam, a detail from the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. It’s a pretty well-known painting! As Gadsby notes in Douglas, Michelangelo would later go on to even greater accomplishments, giving his name to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in 1984.

The School of Athens, Raphael, 1509–11

A close-up of Hannah Gadsby's projection screen from Douglas, showing Raphael's The School of Athens.

Another extremely famous fresco, this time by Raphael. It covers one of the walls of the Stanza della Segnatura, one of the Raphael Rooms at the Vatican. After Mona Lisa and the Sistine Chapel, The School of Athens is probably the most famous work of the High Renaissance created by an artist who eventually had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle named after him.

The Three Graces, unknown Roman sculptor, second century A.D.

Hannah Gadsby onstage, in front of a screen displaying a photograph of a sculpture of the Three Graces.

The Three Graces—Aglaea, Euphrosine, and Thalia—were minor Greek deities who started showing up in art as long ago as the seventh century B.C., although depicting them in the nude was a (slightly) later development. This specific sculpture belongs to the Louvre and is a Roman copy from the second century A.D. of a lost Greek original from the second century B.C. It’s in such good shape because of restoration work performed by sculptor Nicolas Cordier in 1609; New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has a different copy of the same work, minus the heads and arms.

The Three Graces, Raphael, 1504–05

Hannah Gadsby standing in front of an image of Raphael's Three Graces.

Raphael painted his version of the Three Graces at the beginning of the 16th century. Today, it can be found at the Musée Condé, north of Paris. Make time to stop there on your grand tour, or all the other aristocrats will make fun of you!

The Three Graces, Charles-André van Loo, 1763

Hannah Gadsby onstage in front of a painting of three naked women.

Charles-André van Loo was a painter of Dutch ancestry who primarily worked in Paris. This is not his only painting of the Three Graces; the version Gadsby uses is at LACMA, but there’s a different one from 1765 at the Château de Chenonceau that is slightly better known because it is said to depict three of the de Nesle sisters, who were mistresses of Louis XV. (Four of the five de Nesle sisters were Louis XV’s mistresses; three made it into the painting.)

Three Graces With a Basket of Flowers, Jan Brueghel the Younger and Frans Wouters, 1635

Hannah Gadsby stands in front of yet another painting of three naked women.

This treatment of the Graces comes from a period when Flemish painting was highly specialized: In this case, Frans Wouters was responsible for the figures, while Jan Brueghel the Younger painted the landscapes and flowers. It’s closely modeled after a painting of the Graces by Peter Paul Rubens from 1620–24 held at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Brueghel the Younger and Wouters’ version is in a private collection, but was exhibited at the Venaria Reale in Turin in 2016.

The Three Graces, Peter Paul Rubens, 1630–35

A projection screen showing Rubens' painting of the Three Graces, wrapped in an ornate frame.

Around the time Brueghel the Younger and Frans Wouters were duplicating Rubens’ earlier treatment of the Graces, Rubens was stepping up his Graces game by wedging a beautifully rendered wisp of diaphanous material deep into one of the Graces’ butts. You can see it for yourself at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

The Meeting at the Golden Gate, Giotto, 1304–06

Hannah Gadsby onstage in front of a projection of Giotto's Meeting at the Golden Gate, which shows two people in brightly colored clothes embracing; a woman dressed in black is walking away from them.

This fresco, found at the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, is part of a cycle of paintings depicting the life of Mary. This one is a story from the Apocrypha in which Mary’s parents meet and embrace at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem after learning they will have a child. There’s no consensus as to the identity of the woman in black giving off Babadook vibes, but she shows up again in Giotto’s treatment of Mary’s wedding procession.

The Lactation of St. Bernard, Master I.A.M. van Zwolle, 1470–85

Hannah Gadsby stands onstage in front of a projection of an engraving of St. Bernard kneeling while Mary lactates into his mouth.

If you’d like to see this engraving of the Virgin Mary spraying milk all over St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s face at a much higher resolution, it’s at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I.A.M. van Zwolle was a pseudonym, which is probably a good policy for any artist specializing in this sort of engraving.

St. Cecilia With an Angel Holding a Musical Score, Domenichino, 1617–18

Hannah Gadsby onstage in front of a painting of St. Cecilia playing a bass viola. An angel holds her music up for her to read.

Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians because after being forced to marry a non-Christian, she is said to have ignored the musicians performing at her wedding, singing to God in her heart instead. In Domenichino’s version, at the Louvre, she is playing “a cantata to the Glory of Saint Cecilia” on the bass viol, which seems like kind of a lot.

St. Bernard and the Virgin, Alonso Cano, 1645–52

A large screen displaying a painting of Mary lactating into the mouth of St. Bernard.

I.A.M. van Zwolle’s engraving conveyed the essential facts of St. Bernard’s story, but Alonso Cano took things to the next level with this oil painting, which uses bold colors and a striking geometrical composition to capture the drama, every last drop of it. It’s at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

The Black Duchess, Goya, 1797

Hannah Gadsby onstage in front of a projection of a Goya painting of a woman in a black dress and white shoes.

This portrait of María Cayetana de Silva has a companion piece, The White Duchess, which is similar but has the considerable advantage of including a dog. The duchess is not actually pointing at her shoes; the words Solo Goya are written on the ground at her feet.

Perseus and Andromeda, Annibale Carracci and Domenichino, 1597

Hannah Gadsby stands in front of a projection screen displaying a fresco of Andromeda chained to her rock.

This fresco, depicting Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the Kraken, is on one of the walls at the Palazzo Farnese in Rome.

Andromeda Chained to the Rocks, Rembrandt, c. 1630

Hannah Gadsby onstage in front of a Rembrandt painting of Andromeda chained to her rock.

Rembrandt’s Andromeda omits Perseus and the Kraken in order to subtly draw the viewer’s eye to the naked lady chained to the rocks. Did you notice her?

Andromeda, Auguste Rodin, 1887

Hannah Gadsby stands in front of a photograph of a Rodin bronze of Andromeda.

Rodin created several marble sculptures of Andromeda in the 1880s; the photo Gadsby uses appears to show the bronze version at the Brooklyn Museum, which was cast in 1979.

Perseus and Andromeda, Giorgio Vasari, 1570–75

Hannah Gadsby stands in front of a projection of Vasari's Perseus and Andromeda.

Vasari’s treatment of the myth of Perseus and Andromeda can be seen—complete with the nude figure sliding across the surface of the water that Gadsby points out—in the Studiolo at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy.

The Painter’s Studio, Gustave Courbet, 1855

A detail from Courbet's The Painter's Studio, showing a naked woman standing behind a man painting a landscape.

This painting is a lot more serious and profound than most of the paintings of naked women Gadsby highlights, and here is why: Its full title is The Painter’s Studio: A Real Allegory Summing Up Seven Years of My Artistic and Moral Life. If you’d like to learn more about the artistic and moral life of Gustave Courbet—and why wouldn’t you?—you can see it at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Holy Family With St. Jerome, a Female Martyr, and the Infant St. John the Baptist, Prospero Fontana, 1552–55

Hannah Gadsby onstage in front of a painting of the Holy Family in which the baby Jesus is gigantic for some reason.

These two enormous toddlers were painted in Bologna, but now can be seen at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.

The Venus of Willendorf, unknown artist, 28,000–25,000 B.C.

A projection screen from Douglas displaying an image of a paleolithic Venus figurine.

The earliest piece of art featured in Douglas by more than 20,000 years, this figurine was found in 1908 in Austria. Today it’s in the Natural History Museum in Vienna.

Portrait of a Collector, Parmigianino, 1523

Hannah Gadsby onstage in front of a portrait of an angry-looking man dressed all in black.

This unhappy-looking fellow can be found at the National Gallery in London.

Paraclesus, unknown Flemish artist, 17th century

Hannah Gadsby stands in front of a projected image of a portrait of a not-very-bright-looking man dressed in red.

This portrait of 16th century physician and “father of toxicology” Paraclesus is a 17th century copy of a contemporary portrait by Quentin Matsys. The original is lost, but three copies survived: the one in Douglas, which is at the Louvre, one by Rubens at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, and one by an unknown artist at the Uppsala University Library in Sweden.

The Romance of the Rose, illumination by Jeanne de Montbaston, 14th century

Hannah Gadsby onstage in front of a detail from an illuminated manuscript showing a nun picking penises from a penis tree.

This drawing of a nun picking penises from a penis tree comes from an illuminated manuscript of The Romance of the Rose produced by the husband-and-wife team Jeanne and Richard de Montbaston; it’s usually attributed to Jeanne. The manuscript is in the National Library of France, but it’s been digitized: flip through it here, or just skip to the page with the penis tree (or the other page with a penis tree).

Nobleman Between Active and Contemplative Life, Paolo Veronese, 1575

A painting showing a man in black being beckoned on either side by women.

If this painting contains the first known portrait of Louis C.K., as Gadsby alleges, then Louis is at least 445 years old. Like the Fontana portrait of the Holy Family with the enormous babies, this is at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

Douglas, Hannah Gadsby, 2020

The title screen from Douglas, showing Hannah Gadsby facing the audience at the theater at the Ace Hotel.

Can all these works of art, plus Hannah Gadsby’s comments on them, plus the rest of her performance, combine, Voltron-like, into a brand new work of art? That’s for you to decide—because whatever you want to call this article, it’s not a fucking lecture.