Friday, 11 December 2009
VOYEURS AND EXHIBITIONISTS
In this sumptuous painting, we the viewers, are place in the position of the voyeur. Marie Louise O’ Murphy de Boisfaily is mischievously splayed naked on a day bed. She is displayed; advertised. She is sexually provocative; she is open and ready. Her bottom is raised; her thighs are spread, as she awaits her lover. The painting stimulates the imagination. One can smell her perfume, her juices; sense her spasming labia lips as she eagerly awaits her lover’s cock. This painting is, literally, part of a sales campaign. In his memoirs, Casanova claims to have sold Marie Louise, to King Louis XV of France; it isn’t recorded what he paid for her, but the King was the highest bidder.
Marie Louise was a favourite mistress of the King . Francois Boucher painted this picture of her in 1745. With its frills and frivolity, its love of confection, it is fine example of the Rococo style.
I imagine another voyeur. Her gentleman friend, perhaps standing at the open door, rubbing his erection and licking his lips in lascivious anticipation. Or maybe a servant, peering through a crack in the door, as he masturbates.
Is Boucher’s painting of Marie Louise pornographic? I don’t know. It definitely celebrates a hedonistic lifestyle. I struggle constantly between the definition of porn and erotica. Certainly Marie Louise is presented as a sexual object. I keep feeling the need to write her name; she’s not just a thing; she’s a human being. But she is passive; she simply waits, for one lover, maybe two, perhaps a dozen.
Boucher’s painting of Marie Louise O’ Murphy can be seen in the Louvre Museum, Paris.