Museum In Paris Explores History of Prostitution Through Art

The first major art show about Parisian prostitution will open at Musee d’Orsay in Paris,  Splendor and Misery: Images of Prostitution 185-1910, named after Honoré de Balzac’s novel The Splendors and Miseries of Courtesans.

Major artists in the show include Henride Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Edourd Manet, Edvard Munch, and Vincent van Gough.

One rooms contains “The Armchair Of Love”, a brocaded chair with stirrups that can accommodate three people. It was built for naughty King Edward VII to use when he was in town for a threesome.

Several paintings depict life at the bordello and rare photos capture vintage behind-the-scenes moments. There were three levels of prostitution: the first was street walker, second was bordello girl, and third was the courtesan at the top of the hierarchy. According to The New York Times, courtesans were often showered with jewels by married aristocrats who “kept” them in elegant mansions.

“The world’s oldest profession seen through the eyes of art” also includes sculpture, decorative arts, and is accompanied by a 45 Euro art book that makes an interesting conversation piece on a coffee table.

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