Virginity According to Boilly


Jean-Baptist Greuze puts a dead bird in the painting to grieve over the innocence lost; to Pierre-Léopold Boilly the same moment in the life of a woman means discovery of some extra joy; consequently, his bird is out of the cage; but innocence to Boilly deserves more thorough examination; and so, when depicting arcades of Palais Royal the painter treats the prostitutes with all the purity these girls deserve: there are cute little animals to pet, the naivete of the first love barred by the grill, as well as the regular social life with its broad spectrum of activities and encounters. This is a frontal attack on Romanticism and the romantic gangsterism — the under-belly of life is treated in a way that allows delinquents to compete for prizes in triviality with the rest of us.

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