Lorettes and society
Class Prostitutes and the Law
Representations in Les Miserables
Realities of Authority in Paris
Brothels and Streetwalkers
The Privileged Class: Courtesans
Defining the courtesan
Courtesans in reality
the twenty-first century we see nudity everywhere. In teen magazines,
television and the cinema the naked form is something that is showed very
frequently. When Le Dejeuner sur l'herb, by Edouard Manet (1832-1883)was
shown it was in a time where although nude portraits were seen they were
of mythical or ancient women or goddesses. None have them portrayed women
of the time and they certainly did not glorify the courtesan
who, though they certainly existed were not discussed or publicly viewed
by everyone. When this particular painting was unveiled, responses to
it were not all very favorable: "it offends against modesty." -Napoleon
III, 1863 (10. for source click
Dejeuner sur l'herb, 1863 (11. for source click
- The picture shows
four people, two men fully clothed and the two women in different levels
- The woman in the
back is in what appears to be her undergarments while the woman in the
foreground is completely nude.
- The painting asks
the question what exactly is for lunch?
- The woman is staring
directly out at the viewer. It was not considered acceptable for such
a woman to boldly stare at anyone.
- Both men are dressed
in contemporary dress. This depicts the woman , surely a courtesan to
be undressed with two men, as someone who existed in the time that painting
was released. This was highly scandalous.
- The cap worn by
the one man is a faluche, a common hat of students at the time.
His cane is also seen as a phallic symbol.
- For two women to
be out in the open in such states of undress was shocking. It was later
discovered that Manet had painted this picture in his studio.
- To openly showcase
a woman, assumed to be a courtesan, in the open with two men of the
time was something that was simply not done. It brought the fact that
courtesans existed into the public eye in a way that had not been done
picture caused quite a bit of outrage. "The public was scandalized
by this nude, which was all it saw in the painting. 'Good heavens! How
indecent! A woman without a stitch on alongside two clothed men.' Such
a thing had never been seen before! But that was a gross mistake, for
in the Louvre there are more then fifty canvases in which both clothed
and nude figures occur." -Emile Zola
(10. for source click