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Subject+Object

In Antonio del Pollaiuolo’s picture of Apollo and Daphne in the National Gallery in London, the god appears like a bare-legged teenage sprinter who has just managed to lay hands on the fleeing nymph. Myth requires her to take root on the spot and begin to sprout laurel leaves and branches, so her loosely robed left leg does appear to be grounded while two big encumbering bushes have sprung from stumps on her shoulders. But her face between the laurel boughs looks back without panic at the face of her pursuer, just as the inside of his left thigh is making contact with the bare calf of her right. Intact she may be, but she remains forever touched and susceptible.

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