“Rosa la Rouge” was her name.

by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864-1901)

A-Montrouge Rosa la Rouge

I gazed into the small framed print for a few minutes wondering if I should spend money on something I didn’t need.   I was after all, at the thrift shop and had already chosen several items  from the art room.

I almost put the picture back, but I looked at it again.  I wondered what had drawn me to it.  There wasn’t anything that especially stood out to justify the purchase, albeit a modest one, except that I really liked it.  I decided that was enough.

As I write, over a year later, I remain captured by the woman in the picture.  

At Montrouge (Rosa La Rouge), by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Sometimes I take the picture down to take a closer look.  I want to understand what I feel when I look at Rosa.  

She’s mysterious and I wonder what she’s thinking.  I wonder where she is and where she’s going.  I wonder if she’s happy or content.  I think she has something on her mind.  More than that, I think she has a difficult life.  I’m rather delighted that this image evokes so many questions!

My sister came to visit me one day and remarked about the picture.  “She looks just like you,” she said.  “Exactly.”

I hadn’t thought about it, but oddly, I wasn’t especially surprised.  Looking again I saw a resemblance, but not as much as my sister saw.   It’s rather a feeling than her physical features that I relate to.

Rosa la Rouge was a French washerwoman; a laundress, which wasn’t an easy life.  They had a reputation of also being prostitutes.  Having learned that Rosa was likely a French prostitute evoked more curiosity about what I feel when I look at her portrait.

My first impression of Rosa made me think of a woman living the life of a poor share cropper’s wife.  I saw a woman trapped in a life of obligation.

Perhaps it is a certain loneliness in her that I see.   An alienation from the world of nine-to-fivers; the regular people who get up at the same time and go to the same place every day.  Regular people with regular jobs and regular relationships.

I imagine being a prostitute would call one to abandon, at least temporarily, a part of herself.  

So, I wonder about Rosa la Rouge.  What is it about her that intrigues me?

Is something lost to her?  A part of herself that she waits to meet again.

Is something lost to me, I wonder, when I see my reflection in Rosa’s image.

 

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864-1901).

“Toulouse-Lautrec was drawn to Montmartre, an area of Paris famous for its bohemian lifestyle and for being the haunt of artists, writers, and philosophers.”

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_de_Toulouse-Lautrec

“Rosa la Rouge was a prostitute who appeared in many of Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings.  Sadly, she is thought to be the source from which the artist contracted syphilis, a then-incurable disease which may have contributed to his early death at the age of 37.”

source: http://www.artcyclopedia.com/masterscans/l28.html

Thank you for visiting Dogkisses’s blog.  Feel free to leave a comment. 

 

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15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tonya on January 27, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    Happy day Michelle!

    Love,

    T~

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  2. Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    wow, this is very very beautiful, especially the chin and that it says his arms were wide open to her abandonings…..it stops my heart it is so precious!! thank you for this blog!!!

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    • Yes, “Rosa La Rouge” is beautiful. I have another post about her, but am stuck on a fact, so it’s private until I, well… get my facts straight.

      Thanks for the nice compliment!

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  3. WOW I REMEMBER SEEING THIS PAINTING . THE STORY ABOUT HER WAS VERY INTERESTING. SHE REALLY DOES LOOK LIKE YOU ALOT.KEEP WRITING. I ENJOYED READING THIS.

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    • Hi sis!– don’t know if you’ll come back to this but I’m so happy that you read what I wrote! Maybe that new laptop will bring you back here again!
      Love, hugs and kisses,
      dogkisses.

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  4. Posted by T~ on December 4, 2009 at 2:53 PM

    Prior to reading any of your essay, I noticed the resemblance immediately, both in the physical form as well as the “feeling” as you put it. She does “feel” like you. Your writing is very articulate, an intuitive knowing about her. Thank you so much for sharing with me…….you write beautifully.

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    • Thanks T, for reading. Mostly only my friends have read this entry, or have commented on it. Now everyone on WordPress will think I look just like Rosa La Rouge, lol, while I am “dogkisses.” Maybe I should become un-anonymous! I am thinking I will in the new year.

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  5. Very interesting?

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  6. Posted by Cheryl on December 3, 2009 at 6:44 AM

    WOW, as soon as I studied the painting it was haunting, she looks like you. Her jawline, cheekbones, and even her hands in the second painting resemble you. I was moved when I read the paintings were by Toulosue-Lautrec, one of my favorites. Now, I am intrigued by Rosa and will research. Knowing you since 1986, I read between the lines and understand your fascination with Rosa. Beautifully written, hats off to you, my friend!
    Love,
    C-

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    • Hi Cheryl! I guess I’m beginning to see the resemblance too, like you said, even in her hands. Her right wrist bone sticks out like mine too. Still, it is the feeling I get looking at the painting that reminds me of myself. Hey, thanks again for reading, especially about Rosa since that isn’t how I’m used to writing. I had a great time writing it. dogkisses2u!

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  7. Posted by kathleen on December 2, 2009 at 6:39 AM

    Yes. I like it. And at first I thought it was a potrait of You. Good enjoyable easy reading.

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  8. Posted by Paul on November 29, 2009 at 6:37 AM

    Thoughtful, moving.

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    Reply

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