Women and thrills of pleasure in the Belle Époque

Women and thrills of pleasure in the Belle Époque

  • La Goulue seated in front.

    BACARD Louis Victor Paul

  • La Goulue seated on a chair.

    BACARD Louis Victor Paul

  • La Goulue and Grille d'Egout.

    BACARD Louis Victor Paul

  • La Goulue and Grille d'Egout.

    BACARD Louis Victor Paul

To close

Title: La Goulue seated in front.

Author : BACARD Louis Victor Paul (-)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 14.8 - Width 10.2

Technique and other indications: Albumen print. Around 1885.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 06-527044 / PHO1990-8-3

La Goulue seated in front.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

To close

Title: La Goulue seated on a chair.

Author : BACARD Louis Victor Paul (-)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 14.8 - Width 10.2

Technique and other indications: Albumen print. Around 1885

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 06-527043 / PHO1990-8-2

La Goulue seated on a chair.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

To close

Title: La Goulue and Grille d'Egout.

Author : BACARD Louis Victor Paul (-)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 14.4 - Width 9.9

Technique and other indications: Albumen print. Around 1885.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 06-527046 / PHO1990-8-5

La Goulue and Grille d'Egout.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

To close

Title: La Goulue and Grille d'Egout.

Author : BACARD Louis Victor Paul (-)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 14.8 - Width 10.3

Technique and other indications: Albumen print. Around 1885.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 06-527047 / PHO1990-8-6

La Goulue and Grille d'Egout.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Publication date: October 2011

Professor of contemporary history IUFM and Claude Bernard Lyon University 1.Head of University for all, Jean Monnet University, Saint-Etienne.

Historical context

The Republic is having fun

After the much decried regime of the Second Empire ("the imperial festival"), the IIIe République began with a return to order and morality between Adolphe Thiers and Jules Simon. Ten years later, with the opportunist Republicans, it seems that the rigor of the beginnings has given way to a much broader behavioral tolerance: freedom of the press, prostitution in brothels and more and more on the sidewalk, non-application of made of the law on public drunkenness, etc. Places of pleasure, hot streets and open-air cafes, are multiplying, especially in Paris of course, but also in all the cities.

All these establishments are rapidly being renewed in Paris. The Mabille ball disappears in full moral order (1875); but the Élysée-Montmartre, at the bottom of the Butte, takes over and attracts a cosmopolitan clientele. Cafés-concerts and other "bellowing" were on the increase after the Universal Exhibition of 1878. The Folies-Bergère cabaret invented after 1886 the French version of the "music hall », While the Moulin-Rouge opened its doors in 1889 on Boulevard de Clichy.

The courtesans, these "woman [s] of irregular morals who are distinguished [s] by a certain elegance of manners, and who put [t] a price [their] favors" as the dictionaries of the time say (Dictionary of dictionaries, 1889), are nicknamed "casseroles", "large horizontals" or "demi-mondaines". The naturalistic quadrille, also called “cancan”, swirls frilly skirts and turns men's heads. In association with Valentin the Boneless, Môme Fromage, Nini Patte enair, Muguet la limonière, Rayon d´or and other Trompe-la-Mort, Glu, or Demi-siphon, lead the "heckling". The painters (Jules Chéret, and especially Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin de la Galette, 1889, Ball at the Moulin-Rouge, 1890) envision these daring scenes.

Image Analysis

Naked dancers

Photography, like the other arts, like the paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec, dares to defy conventions and expose women more or less naked and in provocative positions. This series of photographs of poses considered gravelly confirms this. All the vices are portrayed: alcoholism, smoking, dancing, sex are personified. Louise Weber, known as la Goulue (1866-1929) for her appetite for life, as well as her cancan comrade Grille d´Égout, figure these excesses.

La Goulue was not yet twenty years old when she was producing "aesthetic nudes" for photographer Achille Delmaet. Here, in her years of triumph at the Moulin-Rouge, she was photographed by Louis-Victor Paul Bacard, active from 1871 to 1900. In the 1890s, La Goulue reached the height of her glory, led the way, even going as far as '' to rent the hotel de la Païva (courtesan under Napoleon III), at 25 avenue des Champs-Élysées. Sitting with legs apart, standing on one leg the other raised very high, great cleavage, sometimes even breasts in the air, bare arms, all her poses mean her profession, her provocation and her disregard for convention.

The two photographs, glass in hand, perhaps recall his strong propensity to "dry glass bottoms in the cabarets of the fortifications" and his first success at the Café du Grand Véfour in the intoxication of his sixteen years. The other two, in which she and Grille d´Égout take a dance step, point out that they are renewing the "naturalistic quadrille" of the Rigolboche and other Céleste Mogador of the Second Empire with an even more "spirited" dance, the french cancan.

Interpretation

Decline of a courtesan, posterity of a practice

La Goulue leads a good life and has a bad temper. His lovers follow one another, and his record includes the Egyptian prince Chérif Amourad Yazi, son of the Khedive, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and the Russian Grand Duke Alexis. But the gambilleuse is ruined and turns into a tamer of wild animals, continuing her exhibition. It becomes huge and ends after the First World War in a trailer in Montmartre, selling cigarettes to customers of the Moulin-Rouge.

His photographs fall into the common fund of erotic postcards which found a large audience, under the cloak of course, at the beginning of the 20th century.e century.

  • cabarets
  • dance
  • Hobbies
  • Paris
  • prostitution

Bibliography

Jacqueline BALTRAN, Paris, crossroads of arts and letters. 1880-1918, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2002. Jean-Pierre CRESPELLE, Daily life in Montmartre at the time of Picasso, Paris, Hachette, 1978.Evane HANSKA, La Romance de la Goulue (novel), Paris, Balland, 1989.Jacques PLESSIS, Le Moulin-Rouge, Paris, La Martinière, 2002.Michel SOUVAIS, Moi, la Goulue de Toulouse-Lautrec.Les Mémoires de mon aïeule, Paris, Publibook, 2008.

To cite this article

Didier NOURRISSON, "Women and thrills of pleasure in the Belle Époque"


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