01 Painting, The amorous game, Henri Decaisne’s Fallen woman, Part 66 — With Footnotes


Oil on canvas
40 by 32 in.; 101.6 by 81.2 cm
Private collection

“Fallen woman” is an archaic term which was used to describe a woman who has “lost her innocence”, and fallen from the grace of God. In 19th-century Britain especially, the meaning came to be closely associated with the loss or surrender of a woman’s chastity and with female promiscuity. Its use was an expression of the belief that to be socially and morally acceptable, a woman’s sexuality and experience should be entirely restricted to marriage, and that she should also be under the supervision and care of an authoritative man. Used when society offered few employment opportunities for women in times of crisis or hardship, the term was often more specifically associated with prostitution, which was regarded as both cause and effect of a woman being “fallen”. More on a Fallen woman

Henri Decaisne (27 January 1799–17 October 1852) was a Belgian historical and portrait painter.

Decaisne was born at Brussels in 1799. As early as 1814 he began to study painting under François, and in 1818 upon the advice of David he went to Paris and entered the studio of Girodet, whence he removed to that of Gros. Several pictures by him are at Versailles; among them are the ‘Entry of Charles VII into Rouen’ (1838), and the ‘Institution of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem’ (1842). In 1839 he completed his colossal work, ‘ Les Belges Illustres.’ He died in Paris in 1852. More on Henri Decaisne

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