Femme fatale

DEFINITION

A French term meaning "deadly woman" or one who destroys innocent manhood, it relates to images of "femme fatales" who have played a big role in western art and literature in the post-Civil War decades of the 19th Century. This theme reflected uneasiness about women's roles, which were shifting from domesticity to the marketplace, meaning the 'fair sex' was increasingly obvious in open society. Opposite of the "Femme Fatale" was the 'Victorian woman', who appeared to be a saint, and whose role was making the home a sanctuary of purity and quiet for her husband and children. In reaction, some of the portrayals of emerging women ("femme fatales") from those constraints showed females cavorting in nature such as nudes posed in forests or in startling situations such as the nude woman sitting nude on the grass by fully clothed men at the picnic in Manet's painting, "Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe". Among "femme fatale" artists are Edvard Munch, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Paul Klee, Gustav Klimt and Aubrey Beardsley. Source: Robert Atkins, "ART SPOKE"

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