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Splendour and Misery

Musée d'Orsay, Paris

NOW CLOSED

Pictures of Prostitution, 1850-1910

The first major show on the subject of prostitution, this exhibition attempts to retrace the way French and foreign artists, fascinated by the people and places involved in prostitution, have constantly sought to find new pictorial resources for depicting the realities and fantasies it implied.

From Manet’s Olympia to Degas’s Absinthe, from Toulouse-Lautrec and Munch’s forays into brothels to the bold figures of Vlaminck, Van Dongen or Picasso, the exhibition focuses on showing the central place held by this shady world in the development of modern painting. The topic is also covered with regard to its social and cultural dimensions through Salon painting, sculpture, decorative arts décoratifs and photography. A wealth of documentary material recalls the ambivalent status of prostitutes, from the splendour of the demi-mondaine to the misery of the pierreuse (street walker).

Preview the exhibition below | The Top Five Exhibitions Opening This Week 

(c. 1889), Giovanni Boldini

Scène de fête au Moulin Rouge (c. 1889), Giovanni Boldini © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

(between 1861 and 1866), Virginia Verasis de Castiglione, Jean-Louis Pierson, Christian Bérard

Un dimanche (between 1861 and 1866), Virginia Verasis de Castiglione, Jean-Louis Pierson, Christian Bérard © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Orsay) / Droits réservés

(1876), Edgar Degas

Femme nue, accroupie, vue de dos (1876), Edgar Degas © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

(1894), Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

Femme tirant son bas (1894), Henri de Toulouse Lautrec © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

(1892), Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

Dans le lit (1892), Henri de Toulouse Lautrec © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

(1878), Henri Gervex

Rolla (1878), Henri Gervex © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

(1878-79), Edouard Manet

La Serveuse de bocks (1878-79), Edouard Manet © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

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