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Yvette Gilber before the curtain

Painting, 1894, 41.6×22.9 cm

Description of the artwork «Yvette Gilber before the curtain»

Songs Yvette Guilber today certainly would have been banned. She sang about the sweetness of morphine, which spreads through the veins. She sang about how virgins are strong, like unripe apricots. But in the 90s of the XIX century it literally went crazy. The spectators occupied the places in the Ambassador's cafe even in the afternoon, and in the evening they came to Yvette's performance, indifferently skipping kankans in colored stockings and other seductive amusements. In 1898, the Russian journalist and theater critic Vlas Doroshevich came to Paris to listen to Yvette Gilber, because for 8 years now she had remained the same favorite of Parisians. “For a long time, no ministry was kept in Paris!” - Doroshevich jokes. It takes him a few minutes to feel the power of her singing and her image, to forget how colorless and unattractive, how unsuitable this woman is for her fame:

«She is ugly, but when she sings, you understand the French expression: "Better than beautiful." Her whole face comes to life, and you are ready to take an oath that in life you have not seen anything more beautiful than this woman with laughing eyes and a thin, slightly mocking smile.
(...) Your thoughts wandered through the attics, basements and mezzanines that Guilber sang about. You smiled or made you sad - as this singing sorceress wanted. She sang about a big house, where an elegant cocotte lives in the mezzanine and fools its rich and foolish admirers and where in the basement, dirty, damp, cold, the mother frantically clings to her dying child: he dies because she has no money for medicine. And when she sang about this mother and about this child, and about this medicine, for which there is nothing to send, her singing was like a moan, like the screams of a tormented heart. And you heard the voice of this mother.
Tears shone in front of the women, and the sinful hall was cleaned with holy diamonds. You felt that you have tears coming up to your throat and now ... you could not stop laughing, because Yvette sang about the attic of the same house, about the little attic where the poor poet lives, to whom the laughter laughed, so that under the moonlight fun to pass the hungry evening.
And it all happened in two minutes! Is it only two minutes?

Of course, the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was shocked and fascinated by this star. Even earlier than at her concerts, Parisians began to occupy places in broad daylight to get there late at night. But to be in the sight of Lautrec and under the gun of his merciless pencil is not an adventure for the weak. His idea of attractiveness is very peculiar and can be a real test for a secular woman, especially a woman seeking attention and fame. But we remember that Guilber was not attractive - and attempts to attract the viewer with an impressive appearance, replicated in posters, could pass for a lie or forced flattery. And that, and another Yvette Gilber did not suit. Toulouse-Lautrec successfully turned out to be nearby and offered her, at first glance, a completely disadvantageous way - on his posters Guilber would not be beautiful, she would be better than beautiful.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait, Genre scene

Style of art: Impressionism

Technique: Watercolor, Chalk

Materials: Paper

Date of creation: 1894

Size: 41.6×22.9 cm

Artwork in selections: 4 selections

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