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 Mirror, Edouard Manet, 1876.
1876 painting Before
depicts the sumptous life style of Balzac's archetype of the decadent
and wanton courtesan.
scene, though more private and far less provocative than that
of Manet's more famous work, Olympia,
is still one far more private than what would have been seen
of a bourgeoisie woman. It is clear, by the very fact that the
woman is standing unabashedly in front of her mirror, only partially
dressed, admiring her own reflection, that Manet wanted the
viewer to believe that this was a courtesan. The argument could
me made that Manet did not intend this explicity, especially
in light of some of his other works, like Woman in Evening
Dress. However, the clues that the woman pictured is indeed
a courtesan, or perhaps a lorette, seem too clear for the meaning
to have been purposely ambiguous.
brush strokes are in themselves decadent and unpredictable,
much the same way that the common preconception of the woman
pictured by society would have been much the same.
piece is part of a large portion of Manet's work interested
in representing the truth of French society, in a manner that
captures the flavor and feeling of the subject's lives.
along with the artist Edgar Degas and the writer Emile Zola,
paid much attention to the motif of prostitution, believing
that it was an essential key to understanding modern life. (Spector)