Regular readers will remember that I recently perused the online catalogue of Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and was entranced by the soul-searching gaze from Madame de Loynes. Also that she appeared to have cut herself shaving. But no matter. What’s passed is past.
There were many other paintings that also caught my eye, as you can well imagine. Several nudes for instance. All women I noticed. Odd that! Not that they caught my eye, but that there were not any male nudes. Sexism on the part of the artists? The commissioner of the paintings? Society at the time of their creation? The Musée’s collection buyers? The paying public? All of the above?
Several of the nude studies were titled with variations of “woman performing her morning toilette”. In other words having a face-wash and brushing her teeth (though the latter never seemed to be captured.) This then was the stock excuse for having a woman stand naked in your studio for a few weeks while you painted her. Or the canvas at least. Some, most even (these were in the Musée d’Orsay after all), were exquisitely executed as representations of the nude or semi-nude female form. But not what you’d necessarily call “erotic” or “sensuous”.
But then I saw this one…
But what a picture! The nape of a woman’s neck. Dora’s it would seem. No nudity beyond what has always been socially acceptable. Yet painted with grace and sensitivity. I love it. Way more sexy than those more explicit nudes. Kudos Monsieur Hugo, kudos!