french 18th century

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Salomé, 1909, by Paul Antoine de la Boulaye (1849-1926)

Many may not be familiar with the story of Salomé, and those that do not are probably quite unaware with exactly what they are looking at when staring right at this painting. First of all, artist Paul Antoine de la Boulaye truly had exquisite talent at giving his female subjects a subtle yet readable expression. Here we see, what you’d assume - and partly correct - a young, light-hearted dancing girl. A girl seemingly more childish than sultry. This, however, strongly contrasts with the story of the infamous Salomé. A young girl whose beautiful erotic dancing pleased her king so greatly, he granted her wish to have John the Baptist’s head on a platter. When paired with the description “an icon of dangerous female seductiveness,” this painting does not exactly hold it up. This painting is a perfect example of how knowing the story behind a work of art can be the key to “reading between the lines” of paintings.

Requested by @taymitsu.

“Portrait of a Woman, Called the Marquise Perrin de Cypierre“ (1753) (detail) by Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766).

Madame Louise-Elisabeth with her two year old son (detail),  Adélaïde Labille-Guiard.

1788, oil on canvas.

Antichambre de la reine,  Palace of Versailles. 

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Ballet Evolved: At the Court of Louis XIV; part of the Royal Opera House’s exploration of the history and development of ballet.

“Portrait of Monsieur de Lavoisier and his Wife (Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze)” (1788) (detail) by Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825).