My “For You” page on TikTok recently has been full of art history facts! This one was too spot on with combining multiple things I absolutely adore, so I just had to share! Mary McGillivray (@_theiconoclass on TikTok) posted a video called “Art History with Harry Styles” that discussed how the shoot from his recent album, Fine Line, was related to a 3rd century saint. Trust me, I wasn’t too sure about it at first too, but after watching the whole video, I knew I had to write about this!
Saint Lucy was a third century martyr born in Sicily. She became popular in the late middle ages for her interesting life story that evolved over time! The original story was that she was betrothed to a pagan man but was a devout Christian. Thus, she wanted to stay a virgin and give her dowry to the poor instead of marrying, but obviously (hence the martyr title) that didn’t go over so well for her. She was ordered to denounce her faith and when she refused, the local governor sentenced her to be “defiled” in a brothel, where she was killed. Later 15th century versions of this story sprinkled in an extra element that explains why most of the depictions of her in art include eyeballs!
These versions of her story include the idea that she had her eyes gouged out. This is either thought to have been part of her punishment or that she did this herself because it would make her less attractive to potential suitors. Some say that her future husband complimented her on her eyes and that is what led her to rip them out and serve them to him on a gold plate. Odd… but probably effective in getting rid of him! Saint Lucy is thus often represented with eyes or eyeballs on a platter. Most depict her with eyes in her head as well because of the belief that God saw her devotion to Him and allowed them to miraculously grow back!
In Francesco del Cossa’s painting of Saint Lucy, c. 1473/1474, she is represented holding a beautiful flower that has eyeballs on a stem! This is where we get to the Harry Styles part. Contemporary photographer Tim Walker took inspiration from this painting in his photoshoot with Harry for his Fine Line album in 2019. We can see that the eyes serving as flowers on a stem that Harry Styles hold up in front of his own eyes is a direct reference to del Cossa’s Saint Lucy.
Another awesome little tidbit that connects Harry Styles to Saint Lucy is that her feast day is December 13th, which is the date that the Fine Line album was released in 2019! This was super fun to look into and I hope that you enjoyed it as well! Have a great week!