In this engrossing book, Hollis Clayson provides the first description and analysis of French artistic interest in women prostitutes, examining how the subject was treated in the art of the 1870s and 1880s by such avant-garde painters as Cézanne, Degas, Manet, and Renoir, as well as by the academic and low-brow painters who were their contemporaries.
Clayson not only illuminates the imagery of prostitutionwith its contradictory connotations of disgust and fascinationbut also tackles the issues and problems relevant to women and men in a patriarchal society. She discusses the conspicuous sexual commerce during this era and the resulting public panic about the deterioration of social life and civilized mores. She describes the system that evolved out of regulating prostitutes and the subsequent rise of clandestine prostitutes who escaped police regulation and who were condemned both for blurring social boundaries and for spreading sexual licentiousness among their moral and social superiors. Clayson argues that the subject of covert prostitution was especially attractive to vanguard painters because it exemplified the commercialization and the ambiguity of modern life.
This is a reprint of the book first published by Yale University Press in 1991.
Hollis Clayson is professor of art history at Northwestern University.
Series: Texts & Documents