User:Jahsonic/shift in 19th century culture from the persecuted maiden to the femme fatale  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In the 19th century, there is a shift from the persecuted maiden to the femme fatale. Mario Praz notes in The Romantic Agony that "the male, who at first tends towards sadism, inclines, at the end of the century, towards masochism." Nineteenth century art had indeed a predilection for imagery of captive females, harem girls, damsels in distress and persecuted maidens as in Hiram Powers's The Greek Slave, The Captive Mother and Ingres's broken-neck girls, but also in the work of Emmanuel Frémiet who is noted for his faux "natural history" statues such as "Gorilla Carrying off a Woman" and "An Orang Outan Strangling a Young Borneo Savage".

Praz takes as his literay archetypes Gretchen of Goethe's Faust, Justine of Marquis de Sade and Antonia and Agnes from The Monk. They were all "born" in the space of two years at the very end of the 18th century.

The change from sadism to masochism is also evident from Auguste Rodin's The All-Devouring Female and The Eternal Idol. These two erotic sculptures are instrumental in illustrating the shift in mentality. This shift coincided with the Decadent Movement and its heroine was Salome.

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