Savor 500 Years of Female Nudes in Delightful New Parisian Show
An exhibition not for the easily embarrassed.
An exhibition at Paris’s Musée Marmottan Monet invites you into the bathrooms of the beauties of yesteryear, thanks to the voyeuristic brushstrokes of greats like Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre Bonnard, and Berthe Morisot.
“La Toilette, Naissance de l’Intime,” or “The Toilet: The Birth of Privacy,” explores the centuries-long evolution of European women’s bathing and grooming practices.
Once a communal activity—especially for upper class women, who typically had several attendants with them in their bathing quarters—the bathroom quickly became a private and often taboo affair with the popularization of the flushing toilet in the mid-19th century.
Five hundred years of femininity, grooming, and art history are on display thanks to over 100 paintings, engravings, sculptures, prints, photographs and films dating from the early 1500s through the 1990s.
“This history is interesting because it makes us ask ourselves about our own cleaning practices,” curator Georges Vigarello told the New York Times. “It makes us wonder how it will change over time.”
Vigarello noted that the show’s greatest goal is to trace “the depiction of the act of “la toilette,” or preparing oneself for the day, from when it first appears in the late Renaissance up to the contemporary era.”
“La Toilette” is the first major exhibition devoted to the subject, and while the bathroom may be a topic that makes some people blush, few of the ladies depicted display any shame—and seldom any awareness—of the watchful eyes of the viewer.
“La Toilette, Naissance de l’Intime,” is on display at the Musée Marmottan Monet until July 5, 2015.
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