At first, it was called Deathrose. DeFeo began working on the painting in 1958 and did not stop until eight years later. The name change might be taken as suggestion that The Rose came alive, ceased, in the course of its development, to speak to death, or, more precisely, to death alone. At least some of the interest of the work—of DeFeo’s oeuvre as a whole—lies in the way it excavates the territory between Eros and Thanatos. The rose is, in Greek mythology, associated with Aphrodite, who is often shown with roses garlanding her hair. It is the flower that most readily stands in for the female body, for female sexuality. But DeFeo’s Rose is not the bloom of purity, not the blush of first desire. It is more vagina dentata, an alluring but dangerous trap, a pleasure and a menace.