November 8, 2015

La Goulue, ca. 1885-1895

Here we have a photograph of exactly the type of personality the bourgeois expected to meet at the cabaret. This is Louise Weber or "La Goulue," so named for her tendency to pick up a patrons glass and down the whole thing. The imagery here suggests entertainment, dancing, progressive ideas, liberty, free love, and all that jazz. Liberty is especially present here.

Undoubtedly this picture was take after 1886, as she is clearly imitating the Statue of Liberty, gifted in that year. However, rather than pure lady liberty, here we see licentious stockings, her undergarments, her pushed up bust, and in place of a torch, she holds a champagne flute. Furthermore, she is sitting, seeming at ease, and has her legs crossed like a gentleman. All of these things contribute to conveying the image that the cabarets were striving to cultivate in response to Hausmannization, in order to attract their bourgeois clientele. This is a beautiful example of the kind of wild individuality, revolutionary spirit, and slightly lower class type of person that the bourgeois were seeking. (via Lucas Whitehead)


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