After the Bath – 1890

by Paul Peel




In the Torrance Overlook Bedroom, by the foot of their bed. First seen out of focus behind Wendy’s head in the first breakfast scene there (36:53-37:05). Later obscured but in focus by Jack’s head when Danny comes looking for his firetruck (53:24-53:47), out of focus again behind Wendy after Jack’s 237 trip (78:09-78:15; 78:34-78:43), and finally in focus behind Tony/Danny before Wendy goes to fight Jack (99:31-111:19). Slivers of it are seen while Jack axes the bathroom (123:38, 123:41, 123:44, 124:15). So that’s 2:38 of the longer shots, and 2:42 if we count those split-seconds as whole seconds.

That’s neat since, in my Avenue of the Dead analysis, Hallorann gets sucked into room 238, and Danny gets sucked into room 242. Since this piece depicts twins, and since room 238 opens behind Danny right before he gets a flash of the Grady twins from touching 237, I’d say this is a good start.


Peel won a third-class medal (Salon) for this piece, considered his best, and he was one of the first Canadian painters to depict nudes (nudity being a matter of some consistent intrigue for Kubrick). But while many of his works are fairly sexual in tone, After the Bath is comparatively chaste. Even that phrase “after the bath” speaks to a certain non-gratuitous necessity for nudity in capturing the reality of this moment, but also to the fact that we’re seeing this painting in focus only after the 237 bath, where nudity jolted us. Notice too how in every sequence with the painting, there’s a character in the scene wearing some kind of plush house robe.

Peel created the painting from a “carefully composed photograph”, a technique he would repeat, to success (remember, Frederic Remington was criticized, and many years later than Peel, for employing such tools).

He was known for his “fascination with domestic scenes of women and children – always touching, occasionally erotic”.

Finally, this might turn out to be nothing, but Peel studied under Thomas Eakins, who, I’ve frequently wondered, might be the artist behind a much later piece. Eakins faced a hard life as a teacher for taking a more cavalier attitude toward nudity, yet Peel, who seemingly kept the matter strictly in his art, is roundly celebrated. I’m reminded of how Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960), released the same year as Hitchcock’s Psycho, did almost everything exactly the same, thematically, but which included nudity and other “lurid” sexual matters, and perhaps thus destroyed the filmmaker’s career.


It’s one of the most on-the-nose pieces for how its subject matter corresponds to the film’s. But perhaps the obviousness draws our attention away from the nature of the Grady Twin Paintings.

It’s most visible above a put-out Tony/Danny reacting to Wendy’s attempts to treat Tony like he doesn’t exist, and the possible Eakins piece appears next to a Wendy perceiving the blowjob bear, which I believe represents mother confronting the furthest extreme of where her misallocation of responsibility could lead.

There’s an interesting way that the two major scenes with the piece speak to the twinnery of the three main characters. Jack’s head blocks the painting while we see a twin Jack in the REDRUM mirror. And when the painting is best visible, Danny is overtaken by Tony, and Wendy will grab a baseball bat positioned next to her main comparison: Winnie-the-Pooh.


The first moment is the split-second (close but not exact to the below image) when Wendy says, “My husband just used too much strength” (17:15). The other three split seconds (17:46-17:52) play over the opening of CLOSING DAY as the helicopter tracks the Beetle over Gould Mountain while Wendy Carlos’ Rocky Mountains plays on the soundtrack. I mention the song because I’ve found recurring references to the Rocky movies, and this idea of “too much strength” pairing with the twins seems like a good nod to that.

Also, 17:51 is the exact 1/8-mark of the film, so it’s neat that our first four twin glimpses take us right to that moment. Especially since…

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…the next appearance is 83 seconds past the 1/4 mark. This is starting to seem like a Twice-Fold phenomenon to me.

But considering the first four overlays mark the period of Jack’s final transformation into Big Bad Wolf, and this one marks his emergence to Wendy as a Jack who is not the same as the old Jack. “What are you doing down here?” he asks, bringing to mind the last time he told her to stay the hell out of here, which was the first time he seemed off to her. Unless we count this late breakfast, if this is the sort of thing Wendy wouldn’t expect from Jack. Actually, on that note, this is the only scene husband and wife have alone together when both seem like relatively sane and normal people, so it’s interesting that a painting of twins would accompany it. As if there’s not really ever a moment in Wendy’s film experience when Jack seems like your average workaday guy.

It’s also worth pointing out, I think, that the last second of this shot is 37:05, which is like a 237 jumble, if we think of 5s as backwards 2s.

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The next phase comes 3:07 later (40:12-42:00), as the painting looms over a number of other sequences on the other side, seeming to grow out of Tony/Danny’s head.

The first is of the TUESDAY placard, a name that sounds like “Twos Day” in English, but also, it’s named for the Norse god Tiw whose name is also spelled as Tyr. And it’s believed that he might’ve been the ultimate god of an older Germanic religion that was written over by the new pantheon of Norse gods. So he has a bit of a historic twin in his old self.

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In this overlay, it looks like forward Wendy is unscrewing backward Danny’s head, and since she hopes she’s reaching Danny through the Tony buffer, I think the visual metaphor here (given that kitchen Wendy’s outfit is off-blue, with black and white bits, and given that the twins are overlaying her here) is that Wendy played a role in creating Danny’s twin-self, Tony. Also, kitchen Wendy is here hearing about a “1968 shooting”, which would be 2 years before the Grady killings.

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It then mirrors over most of Danny’s 3rd lesson, in which it hovers in the back of his head all the way to 42:00, at which moment he’ll be staring up at room 237, as we’ll see below.

Now, there’s potentially a lot to be said about this painting accompanying so much of Danny’s 3rd lesson, but I especially like how it accompanies this moment of Battle of Sisters Creek flowing through Wendy’s head (41:35-41:36). I have a theory that Jack’s soul is swallowed by the hotel into room 231, which is the room right in front of triking Danny’s face, which means that After the Bath is overlaying 231 all through this part of the ride (41:32-41:37). Notice how Tony/Danny is wearing a brown bathrobe. Jack was wearing a dark blue bathrobe in the MONDAY scene where he’ll paraphrase the Grady twins at Danny, “I wish we could stay here forever…and ever…and ever…” If the titular Bath refers to the 237 bathtub ghost, then it’s interesting that Danny wears a bathrobe after the 237 bath experience, while Jack wears his before he ever sets foot in 237.

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On the note that this is 42:00 into the film, it’s interesting that Wendy would be checking her watch here (she’ll see that it’s 6:30am, incidentally, whereas her watch in that first breakfast looked like about 6:05am or 12:30pm), given that this was the same episode of Roadrunner that was playing in the first breakfast scene, which this scene seems like an echo of. In that scene, Danny had a giant 42 on his shirtsleeves, and that scene started exactly 244 seconds into the film (minus the opening WB logo), while Jack’s interview scene fades into it at exactly 237 seconds in.

The mirror action for the first breakfast is Danny enacting the final escape moves, which correspond to his first lesson moves. So we’ve got the 1st and 3rd lessons being invoked along with the 2nd and 4th escapes, and the number 42. Also 2 x 3 x 7 = 42.

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The next appearance is 11:24 later (53:24-53:47), obscured by bathrobe-wearing Jack’s head for 23 seconds. I probably don’t need to point out the significance of all the twinning/Grady/butterfly imagery here, but you probably wouldn’t realize that this moment practically splits the tricky Grady from the more openly evil Grady. It’s right after the painting vanishes that he says, “I’m sorry to differ with you, sir…” and begins his murder talk. The dialogue that occurs while the painting is on screen is, “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t have any recollection of that at all.” And “Mr. Grady…you were the caretaker here.”

So, obviously, this conversation is taking place in one of the film’s four major bathrooms, but this one holds the distinction of being the most openly impossible. Jack and Grady make two right turns to get into this room, meaning they’re standing in the very spot where they first met. So one thing we might derive from the words “after the bath” is that Jack’s former self is being broken down by a series of bathroom experiences. First by his concern (or major lack of concern) for whatever happened to Danny in the Boulder bathroom (he brings it up once to Wendy when he’s trying to dismiss Danny’s account of what happened in the 237 bathroom “It wouldn’t be that different from the episode he had…before we came up here. Would it?”), then by his muffled disappointment at the size of his quarters during the tour, “Well, it’s very…uh…homey!” Then of course by the headscrew of the impossible thing he sees and feels in the 237 bathroom. Then by this impossible bathroom, and the impossible man who fills his head with more nonsense. And finally by his urge to enter the Suite 3 bathroom, where he hopes to kill Wendy, and gets his hand slashed.

But the thing about this bathroom that’s stood out to me for some time now is how the red walls create a kind of blood-flood feeling in whatever’s going on on the opposite side of the movie. So, if that’s what the intended effect was – if this bathroom (which is very close to the bloodfall, as we know thanks to Wendy’s journey there) is meant to act as a kind of symbolic bloodfall, then is the bloodfall itself not a kind of “bath”? A bloodbath.

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In fact, it’s exactly 9 minutes later (62:47-62:56 + 63:16-63:22) when the painting shows up again (always behind a disbelieving Wendy) to accompany Jack’s first angry stalk to the Gold Room, where he’ll take his suicide drink. It’s this ghost-drink that’s swirling around inside him as he confronts the 237 ghost (in the mirrorform, the ghost transforms right when he takes his first drink), which is what Jack’s denying the existence of on the other side. Wendy’s dialogue during these two shots is, “What about those bruises on his neck?” And, “No. That’s not possible.” So After the Bath here seems to speak to Wendy as a non-twin, someone who can’t be tricked by the bathrooms in the same way as Jack and Danny, and of course her moment of greatest terror occurs in a bathroom. She might be a bit cowardly at times, but she’s always able to confront her (horrible) reality.

Also, the photos behind Wendy’s face here are only ever also seen during Danny’s 3rd lesson, as he trikes around above the lounge. So we’ve got a subtle connection here to an earlier After the Bath overlay (see below).

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So, 9 is a number with strong connection to the Gradys, since the murders were 9 years ago. The first two appearances of After the Bath accompany Jack’s two major transformations into his more Grady self, while these last two either involve Grady, or seem like the set-up to Grady’s appearance. The lengthy middle appearance mirrors Danny’s 3rd lesson, which involves him touching 237 and getting his third vision of the twins (42:44). And it’s actually 7:23 from the final disappearance to the middle of the film (63:22-70:45).

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Next art reference: Antique Navajo Weaving: Yei Pictorial