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Call Girl Mystery (PART 1)

2019-09-20 11:06:34 | 英語・英会話
 

Call Girl Mystery (PART 1)

 


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Kato. . . Did you go to Paris recently and play with a high-priced call girl?


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Oh no, I am such a poor guy as, if I play with a high-priced call girl, I'll go broke and become homeless.

Don't be so pessimistic! Cheer up! . . . In any case, how come you've brought up a call girl?

Well . . . I recently borrowed a book from Vancouver Public Library and came across the following part. . .


 

The Dark Side of Paris

 


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"Zoom in"

 

Édouard Manet, sometimes referred to as the father of modern painting, is often spoken of as an impressionist, but he has never participated in an impressionist exhibition.
Rather, he was a painter who refused to exhibit at the Impressionist Exhibition.
At that time, the Impressionists were exposed to intense criticism because their novel painting methods were not recognized from the mainstream artists. . .

The theme chosen by Manet is a water-front leisure activity that was popular on the banks of the Seine at the outskirts of Paris, as the original title “Bathing” represents.
However, in the conservative audience at that time, the direct gaze toward the audience and the realistic nude body was too radical. . .

In this era, a plausible reason and/or excuse of “historical painting” was still necessary to draw the nude.
The above painting, however, appeared too shocking and too realistic as a real naked woman.
Critics and spectators condemned this work as “bad” and “immoral”. . .

They saw the dark side of the second imperial era in France, that is, the world of prostitution. . .

By the way, many high-priced courtesans worked in Paris during the 2nd Imperial period, but a strict moral view of social conducts prevailed.

 


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As a result of the invention of photos, some people imagined pornography on the market.
In times when paintings were supposed to be “noble”, Édouard Manet came to impose the reality on people.

The composition of the above painting is similar to the copperplate print "Judgement of Paris" produced by Marcantonio Raimondi (ca.1480 - ca.1534) based on Raphael's drawing.
It seems obvious if you look at the three people in the lower right. . .

 


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The contrast between the male and female nudes is similar to that of "Concerto campestre" at the Louvre, which is now known as Titian's work, but at that time people supposed that Giorgione (1476/78-1510) painted it. . .

 


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By the way, the current title “Lunch on Grass (Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe)” was renamed after Monet's “Lunch on Grass” (1865-66) during the 1867 solo exhibition.

 


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(Pages 90-96)




Van Gogh's Mental State

 

At the end of January 1890, a son was born to his brother Theo and Johanna.

Van Gogh, delighted with the birth of a nephew named the same Vincent Willem, began to work on a “Almond Blossom” as a gift. . .

 


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On July 6th, Van Gogh went to Paris on a day trip and learned about Theo's economic hardship.
Theo, who had also sent money to his Dutch family after his father died, told Van Gogh that he could not expect a stable income like before because he was thinking about setting up his own business after leaving Goupil & Cie, where he was in charge of management.
Awkward and heavy air drifted through Theo's family.

At that time, Theo, who was not born strong, was not in good health.
The couple was exhausted with care for the sick baby, and his wife Johanna was so tired that she fell sick.

The remittance to Van Gogh spurred the suffering and fatigue of Theo and cast a dark shadow on the marital relationship.
Faced with the plight of his brother and his wife, Van Gogh came to realize that he couldn't rely on Theo any more.

Now van Gogh understood that Theo considered his family more important than van Gogh. . .

Aware of being too late to start a new life, van Gogh got troubled and began to get sick mentally. . .

Van Gogh devoted himself to the paintings as if to escape from loneliness and fear. His mental state clearly reflects on the "Wheatfield with Crows" drawn at this time.

 


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(Pages 119-121)

(Note:red characters are emphasized by Kato.
Photo from Denman Library
Translated by Kato)




SOURCE: 『人騒がせな名画たち』
著者: 木村泰司
2018年10月5日 第1刷発行
発行所: 株式会社 マガジンハウス




I see. . . There were many high-priced courtesans in Paris during the 2nd Empire period, huh?. . .



That's right. . .

. . . So when was the second imperial era?

Please read the following a Wikipedia article about the second imperial era. . .


Second French Empire

 

The Second French Empire was the regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.

 


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Historians in the 1930s and 1940s often disparaged the Second Empire as a precursor of fascism.
That interpretation is no longer promulgated and by the late 20th century they were celebrating it as leading example of a modernizing regime.

Historians have generally given the Empire negative evaluations on its foreign-policy, and somewhat more positive evaluations of domestic policies, especially after Napoleon III liberalized his rule after 1858.

He promoted French business and exports.
The greatest achievements came in material improvements, in the form of a grand railway network that facilitated commerce and tied the nation together and centered it on Paris.

It had the effect of stimulating economic growth, and bringing prosperity to most regions of the country.
The Second Empire is given high credit for the rebuilding of Paris with broad boulevards, striking public buildings, and very attractive residential districts for upscale Parisians.

In international policy, Napoleon III tried to emulate his uncle, engaging in numerous imperial ventures around the world as well as several wars in Europe.

Using very harsh methods, he built up the French Empire in North Africa and in Southeast Asia.
Napoleon III also sought to modernize the Mexican economy and bring it into the French orbit, but this ended in a fiasco.
He badly mishandled the threat from Prussia, and by the end of his reign, Napoleon III found himself without allies in the face of overwhelming German force.




Source:“French Second Empire”
Free encyclopedia "Wikipedia"
 




Cafés and restaurants

Thanks to the growing number of wealthy Parisians and tourists coming to the city and the new network of railroads that delivered fresh seafood, meat, vegetables and fruit to Les Halles every morning, Paris during the Second Empire had some of the best restaurants in the world.
The greatest concentration of top-class restaurants was on the Boulevard des Italiens, near the theaters.
The most prominent of these at the beginning the Empire was the Café de Paris, opened in 1826, which was located on the ground floor of the Hôtel de Brancas.
It was decorated in the style of a grand apartment, with high ceilings, large mirrors and elegant furniture.
The director of the Paris Opéra had a table reserved for him there, and it was a frequent meeting place for characters in the novels of Balzac.
It was unable to adapt to the style of the Second Empire, however; it closed too early, at ten in the evening, the hour when the new wealthy class of Second Empire Parisians were just going out to dinner after the theatre or a ball.
As a result, it went out of business in 1856.

The most famous newer restaurants on the Boulevard des Italiens were the Maison Dorée, the Café Riche and the Café Anglais, the latter two of which faced each other across the boulevard.
They, and the other cafés modelled after them, had a similar arrangement.
Inside the door, the clients were welcomed by the dame de comptoir, always a beautiful woman who was very elegantly dressed.
Besides welcoming the clients, she was in charge of the distribution of pieces of sugar, two for each demitasse of coffee.
A demitasse of coffee cost between 35 and 40 centimes, to which clients usually added a tip of two sous, or ten centimes.
An extra piece of sugar cost ten centimes.
The floor of the café was lightly covered with sand, so the hurrying waiters would not slip.
The technology of the coffee service was greatly improved in 1855 with the invention of the hydrostatic coffee percolator, first presented at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1855, which allowed a café to produce 50,000 demitasses a day.

The Maison Dorée was decorated in an extravagant Moorish style, with white walls and gilded furnishings, balconies and statues.
It had six dining salons and 26 small private rooms.
The private dining rooms were elegantly furnished with large sofas as well as tables and were a popular place for clandestine romances.
They also featured large mirrors, where women had the tradition of scratching messages with their diamond rings.
It was a popular meeting place between high society and what was known as the demimonde of actresses and courtesans; it was a favorite dining place of Nana in the novel of that name by Émile Zola.

 


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Source:“Paris during the Second Empire”
Free encyclopedia "Wikipedia"




Tell me, Kato, in the Japanese history, what happened during that period.



It was around the end of the Edo period before the Meiji Restoration. . . Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States Navy came to Japan with a 4-ship fleet in 1853, and played a leading role in the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, which in turn led Japan to the beginning of the Meiji Restoration. . .

I see, but how come you focus on Call Girl in Paris?

Well, in those days, even at the end of the Edo period in Japan and later during the Meiji Restoration, a great number of prostitutes entertained men in regulated brothels as well as private brothels. . . So did courtesans in Paris.

I wonder if van Gogh had something to do with a sex worker or a brothel.

Yes, he did. . . Van Gogh lived with an ex-prostitute during the Hague era.


The Hague (1882-183) era

 


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Mauve took Van Gogh on as a student and introduced him to watercolour, which he worked on for the next month before returning home for Christmas.
He quarrelled with his father, refusing to attend church, and left for The Hague.

In January 1882, Mauve introduced him to painting in oil and lent him money to set up a studio.
Within a month Van Gogh and Mauve fell out, possibly over the viability of drawing from plaster casts.

Van Gogh could afford to hire only people from the street as models, a practice of which Mauve seems to have disapproved.
In June Van Gogh suffered a bout of gonorrhoea and spent three weeks in hospital.

Soon after, he first painted in oils, bought with money borrowed from Theo.
He liked the medium, and spread the paint liberally, scraping from the canvas and working back with the brush.
He wrote that he was surprised at how good the results were.

By March 1882, Mauve appears to have gone cold towards Van Gogh, and stopped replying to his letters.
He had learned of Van Gogh's new domestic arrangement with an alcoholic prostitute, Clasina Maria "Sien" Hoornik (1850–1904), and her young daughter.
Van Gogh had met Sien towards the end of January 1882, when she had a five-year-old daughter and was pregnant.

 


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"Sorrow" depicting Sien

April 1882 The Hague sketch (black chalk)


 

She had previously borne two children who died, but Van Gogh was unaware of this; on 2 July, she gave birth to a baby boy, Willem.
When Van Gogh's father discovered the details of their relationship, he put pressure on his son to abandon Sien and her two children.

Vincent at first defied him, and considered moving the family out of the city, but in late 1883, he left Sien and the children.

Poverty may have pushed Sien back into prostitution; the home became less happy and Van Gogh may have felt family life was irreconcilable with his artistic development.
Sien gave her daughter to her mother, and baby Willem to her brother.
Willem remembered visiting Rotterdam when he was about 12, when an uncle tried to persuade Sien to marry to legitimise the child.
He believed Van Gogh was his father, but the timing of his birth makes this unlikely.
Sien drowned herself in the River Scheldt in 1904.




Source:“Vincent van Gogh”
Free encyclopedia "Wikipedia"




In late 1883, van Gogh left Sien and went to Paris, didn't he?



That's right. . . He stayed in Paris, but after all, Paris was a difficult place for van Gogh to live. So, he moved to Arles, southern France, and started living there. . .

So, in Arles, did Van Gogh get involved with a sex worker?

That's the mystery I'm talking about. . .

What do you mean?

As the above book tells you, van Gogh became mentally sick. . .

Why is that?

Well. . . , van Gogh received a letter that informed him that his brother Theo was engaged with Johanna, and van Gogh understood that his financial assistance would be cut off. At the same time, Gauguin told him that he couldn’t live together and would leave. Van Gogh was so profoundly depressed with this double problems that he cut his left ear with his razor on the spur of the moment. . .

 


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It looks like van Gogh cut his right ear. . .



At first I thought so when I saw the above picture. . . But the Wikipedia article says he cut his left ear. . . You know what? Van Gogh painted it while looking at him in the mirror. . . In other words, he simplay painted what he saw in the mirror, that is, the opposite image of the real thing.

I see. . . So what happened to the cut ear?

Out of all things and choices, Van Gogh wrapped the ear in paper and handed it over to a girl in a brothel he had visited several times. . .

So van Gogh gave it to his favorite sex worker, didn't he?

That is the mystery. . . Actually, there is a documentary that delves into this mystery. . .

Kato, did you see this documentary?

Yes, I did. . .

 


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"Zoom in"

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Kato's Comment

Produced and directed by Jack MacInnes in 2016, this 56-minute documentary delves into the mystery of what really happened on the night of Dcember 23, 1888, in the French town of Arles.

Vincent van Gogh cut his ear and delivered it in person to a girl called "Rachel" in the nearby brothel.

Why did he do it?

Amazing and intriguing!



 



I see. . . So van Gogh gave the ear to a girl called “Rachel”, huh? But you seem to intentionally write a girl, instead of prostitute or hooker. . . Why is that?



So this is Call Girl Mystery.

Kato, are you kidding? Is this a pun or something?

Actually, this girl's real name was Gabrielle and she was nicknamed “Gabi”.

Was "Rachel" the name used at the brothel?

Yes, it was, but she wasn't working as a sex worker.

Why not?

This girl was 19 at the time and died in 1952 at the age of 80. . . Bernadetta Murphy in the above documentary actually visited her grandson and learned that the girl called "Rachel" at the brothel worked as a cleaning girl. . .

In other words, instead of sleeping with her, van Gogh was rather in a friendly relationship with this girl, huh?. . .

I guess so. . . Obviously, van Gogh liked this girl and might have had a pleasant chat with her at times. . . Van Gogh cut his ear and then walked to this brothel nearby, and handed it to this girl and said, "I want you to cherish it." . . .

 


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Amazing! . . . She might've been shocked to death when she found a bloody ear wrapped in a piece of paper. . . Couldn't van Gogh think of her feelings when she would find his bloody ear wrapped in a paper?



He did it because he was mentally sick. . . If van Gogh had been in a normal mental state, he wouldn't have done it!

Why did van Gogh cut his ear in the first place?

Good question! . . . Whenever somebody hears this story, he or she will have the same question! . . . Actually I had the same question when I heard this story for the first time.

Don't waste my time. . . Please tell me why. . .

Well . . . , Diane, probabaly you know that van Gogh had once thought of becoming a pastor. . . Whenever he found his spare time, van Gogh translated Bible chapters into English, French, and German. Van Gogh also prayed for a long time at the table, did not eat meat, and went to the Jansen Church, Catholic Church, Lutheran Church on Sundays as well as the Dutch Reformed Church. . .

In other words, van Gogh was a devout Christian, huh?

You're telling me, Diane. . . In the Bible, there is a story about cutting a ear. . .

Oh yeah?. . . Tell me about it. . .

The above documentary explains that Van Gogh naturally knew the Biblical story, in which the apostle Peter had resisted the centurion who tried to arrest Jesus and cut his ear. . .

 


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Kato, are you saying that, recalling the above story, van Gogh cut his own ear on the spur of the moment?



The above documentary seems to interpret the incident that way. . .

Kato, what do you think about it?

Well . . . , Van Gogh seemed in a big trouble because he would have no or little economic assistance from Theo in the near future. . . At that time, because of the difference in opinions, Gauguin told van Gogh that he would leave Arles. Thus, van Gogh plunged into a fathomless depress.

In other words, van Gogh mentally went beyond the limit, huh?

I think so. . . Van Gogh can't hate Theo. . . He had no courage to cut Gauguin's ear with a razor. . . At this point in time, he might have come up with the Biblical tale of ear-cutting and came to realize that he himself was to blame, and he cut off his ear on the spur of the moment!

So, eventually he blamed himself and cut off his ear as the spostle Peter did to the centurion, huh?

I can't think of anything else!



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(To be continued)






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