Friday, 11 December 2009


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.


  1. Interesting name she has. Do you know where she came from or how she ended up in France?

    It's striking that by modern standards she wouldn't be a pin-up or an international beauty - she's fat and plain. But after all, in those days if you weren't syphillitic, scarred by smallpox, missing most of your teeth (and with the ones you had remaining yellow or black - they'd discovered sugar but not dental hygiene)or otherwise maimed or deformed, then you were already well ahead of the game.

    I've noticed a similar contrast even in my lifetime. The beauty standard that young women (even schoolgirls) are routinely expected to attain, via effective makeup, is FAR higher than it was in past decades.

  2. Hi Billie,

    Strange, I've just begun a short bit about a man showing off for his lady, although he's not aware of it. She's enjoying it a great deal, and I'm sure he'll reap the benefits very soon. Nice post, I really enjoyed.


  3. Hi Janine and Jude. Sorry it's taken me a while to respond to your comments. They've only just come through to be moderated.

    Here's what I've been able to find out about Marie-Louise's origins from Wiki.

    She was the fifth daughter of an Irish officer who had taken up shoemaking in Rouen, France. After his death, her mother brought the family to Paris.

    In 1752, at fourteen years of age, she posed nude for a memorable and provocative portrait by artist François Boucher. Casanova takes in his Memoirs (ch. 31) the credit for introducing her to Louis XV and from them it looks like the portrait is part of a sales campaign of her. The king, being the best bidder, took her as one of his mistresses, and she quickly became a favourite, giving birth to the king's illegitimate daughter, Agathe Louise de Saint-Antoine (1754 – 1774). General de Beaufranchet is also thought to have been her child but conceived legitimately with the comte de Beaufranchet.

    After serving as a mistress to the king for just over two years, O'Murphy made a mistake that was common for many courtesans, that of trying to replace the official mistress. Around 1754, she unwisely tried to unseat the longtime royal favorite, Madame de Pompadour. This ill-judged move quickly resulted in O'Murphy's downfall at court; a marriage was arranged to comte de Beaufranchet. He died for France in 1757, at the battle of Rossbach. She would marry twice more, her third husband being thirty years her junior. The last marriage ended in divorce.

    Following the French Revolution, O'Murphy was imprisoned because of her royal connections, but she survived the Reign of Terror and many years of political turmoil. She died in 1814 at the age of 77.

    Your story sounds cool Jude! Can't wait to read it!


  4. Wow - what a life! Someone write that novel!!