The Belly of Montmartre

“A Montrouge” ā€“ Rosa La Rouge, painted by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec @ The Barnes Foundation

Every once in awhile a painting takes me back in time, to another place and age where I was surrounded by different things and engaged with different people.

I get goosebumps as I see, just outside the corner of my eye, someone that I recognize. Someone that I swear, must have posed for this piece — never mind the fact that it was painted 135 years ago — this is without question, beyond a shadow of a doubt, somebody I used to know and love.

She might even be me.

Which makes it all the more fun when I do more research on the work when I get home, only to discover that Lautrec was capturing “a seedy and murderous” prostitute character from the songs of the cabaret performer Aristide Bruant, with the help of model Carmen Gaudin, in order to spotlight the underbelly of Parisian society. Now, I certainly have a storied past, but I can’t say I ever was like that.

That jutting jaw, though? The baggy shirt and the hair hiding half her face? The distinctly guarded tone, hinting at a defiant explosion of emotion just below the surface?

Come to think of it — maybe I was a little seedy.

Shot on Pixel 6 Pro.

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