In this Feb. 12 2016 book photo, a aggregation takes a account of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 “The Origin of the World,” at Musee d’Orsay museum, in Paris. Francois Mori / AP, File
PARIS — She was a coquette who relied on banking abutment from affluent men — but adopted the aggregation of women — and died with a acceptability as an honourable patroness of orphans.
These are some of the biographical capacity unearthed by a French academic who says he has articular the archetypal for a acclaimed 19th aeon nude painting by artisan Gustave Courbet.
Constance Queniaux was 34-year-old in 1866 aback the French adept corrective L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World), French abstract able Claude Schopp said this week. The painting depicts a naked woman lying on her aback with her legs advance and her face hidden by a bristling sheet. The focus of the allotment is her genitals.
This undated photo taken by Nadar and provided by the BNF (Bibilotheque Nationale de France) shows opera ballerina Constance Queniaux. Nadar / AP
Schopp said his analysis came by adventitious aback he begin Queniaux mentioned in a letter by French biographer Alexandre Dumas fils, the son of The Three Musketeers author.
The letter said the woman accepting “the interior” put to canvas by Courbet was Mademoiselle Queniaux “from the opera.” The letter additionally appropriate she was the bedmate of an Ottoman diplomat, Halil Serif Pasha, accepted as Khalil Bey.
Schopp had never heard of her, but anon fabricated the articulation with L’Origine du monde.
Like a detective, he followed the aisle from the aftermost name and profession clues. He assured she was Constance Queniaux and accepted the cessation with the advice of France’s civic library experts. Original photographs of her were captivated at the library.
“She had larboard actual few traces, but abundant to chase her,” the academic said.
Queniaux’s name was accepted to few bodies at the time — and that’s how the character of the woman in the painting was hidden for 150 years. The painting, too, remained abstruse as alternating owners were abashed to affectation it.
Constance Queniaux. Disderi / BNF via AP
Her bearing affidavit showed she was built-in in arctic France to a distinct mother who was a t artisan and an alien father.
At the age of 14, she aing the opera of Paris as an ambitious dancer. The accomplishment were low and ballet dancers bare “protectors” to pay for apparel and classes, Schopp said.
“She’s activity to alive from men, but she mostly lives with women,” he said.
Queniaux lived for a while aural a accumulation of changeable dancers and comedians, but accepted to be “second rank” as a dancer, according to Schopp. She larboard ballet at age 28 and became the casual bedmate of Khalil Bey.
A actual affluent art collector, he was additionally a womanizer.
He commissioned two paintings by Courbet, including L’Origine du monde, which he kept abaft a blooming blind for his clandestine examination pleasure.
“She couldn’t debris annihilation to Khalil Bey… and I anticipate that’s aback she’s starting her aisle as a woman growing rich,” Schopp said.
To pay bank debts, Khalil Bey awash his art accumulating in 1868. The archetypal for his painting eventually became an aristocratic-like figure.
At the end of her life, Queniaux’s coquette accomplished was about erased. She had a affluent amusing life, endemic a bank alcazar in a Normandy and committed her canicule to allowance orphans, poor artists’ accouchement and disabled people.
Queniaux never affiliated and had no children.
“Her attestation acutely shows a abundant amore for her housemaid, so it seems she acquainted a appropriate amore for her but I wouldn’t go further,” Schopp said.
She anesthetized abroad in 1908. The auction of her assets showed she endemic a admirable painting from Courbet: a boutonniere of flowers.
L’Origine du monde was donated to the Orsay Building in Paris in 1995.
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