Finette (Mabille), 1856-58

Finette of Mabille; Nadar, Gaspard Félix Tournachon (French, 1820 - 1910); Paris, France; 1856 - 1858; Salted paper print; 22.2 x 15.6 cm (8 3/4 x 6 1/8 in.); 84.XM.436.496

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salted paper print of Finette (Mabille) by Nadar, 1856-58

The Bal Mabille was one of the more notorious Second Empire dance halls. The subject of this portrait, Finette, is decked out in her finest dress, sporting the lace bonnet with silk bow that the dancers at the Bal Mabille were famous for wearing. Her beauty mark and pin curl distinguish her from the respectable ladies of her day, although only with historical hindsight could this sweet-faced young woman obviously be a person of loose morals, possibly a prostitute. She looks sad, turning absently away from the camera. If, as historians have suggested, Nadar insisted upon covering up her body in the paisley shawl that appears in other photographs, this working girl was possibly disappointed that her portrait by the renowned photographer was not more obviously revelatory of her charms.

source: J. Paul Getty Museum

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