Empress Butterfly was conceived as a partner painting to Emperor Butterfly, though Mosley doesn’t think of his figures as clearly gendered: “When painting things such as masquerade or carnival, it’s hard to get away from ideas of transvesticism. I paint women with the same measurements as the men. I can’t justify painting beautiful ladies when the men are so buffoon-like, so I treat them all as equals. Empress Butterfly is an attempt to paint movement; I ended up with this character. All the weight is on one knuckle as if the foetal figure is a chrysalis in transformation. I’m interested in the camouflage pattern, like the eye motif on peacocks that are used for protection. In these two paintings the eyes are like a porthole into something else; stage paint or something like camouflage – a painting of a painting in a painting.”

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