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Video transcript

so here we are looking at Lala's which is a painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir in the Court old galleries in London and it's from 1874 which is the magical year of the beginning of the impressionist exhibitions which actually they just started out as paintings that weren't accepted at the official yearly exposition of paintings and then all the Impressionists kind of said well if you're not going to accept our paintings we'll start our own show and that was the year 1874 they were desperate for some recognition they needed someone to look at them yeah this is a time when there's no real galleries for Contemporary Art and they wanted people to see it interestingly enough though though we may not think of it this way this would have been shocking at the time the way this was painted oh it's incredibly loosely painted very much so and it's the scene of modern life it's not what classical story or a religious story or anything it's two people out at the theater as you would go to the theater in the 1870s I guess the lodge was a level of the theater just like it is today right they were kind of in like an opera box and this is very much what people would do you know you'd sit in the lodge and the woman always said in front by railing and you can see she has her right arm resting on this cushioned railing and then the man would sit behind her and look at other people you're not looking down toward a stage and all he's looking around to see who else is a theater actor I knew there with it was a very gossipy Society I mean I suppose it's not that different from our celebrity tabloids and obsession you know who's out with who and who's wearing what there's like the whole painting really this pyramid shape of black and white stripes formed by her dress what a great friend I know the thing that always impresses me about this painting is that it is very loosely painted but you get a lot of detail of what she's wearing and her pearls and her corsage and her earrings and the flowers in her hair he manages to get that all in there without giving you exact detailed contours of everything so she's really upper-class right I mean this is an expensive dress it looks it was an expensive dress but she's probably not his wife the women who were the most ostentatious dresses were actually sort of these upper-class courtesans who would be trotted out on the arm of their patrons which is probably who this man is in the background and the woman who posed for this was actually a fairly famous artists model whose nickname I always liked which was me me fish face that doesn't sound very happy I think she has a lovely face she's beautiful what's important to remember as we're talking about this for me that we look at his initials looks like the you know two people dressed up at the Opera and we easily lose sight of what it was like in Paris in the 1870s issues of class and drafts and all these codes that are kind of lost to us now but that we really need to decode the painting very enjoyable just to look at the sumptuousness of her dress but then also thinking about the idea that this was a scene of modern life this way that she's on display she immediately because a specific kind of woman yes and the status symbol and social class that's inherent in that but without that modesty of a middle-class woman who would have gone to the Opera without the also probably kind of modesty and uprightness of a truly aristocratic woman so she becomes a very specific type but I love thinking that a contemporary viewer of this would have known that right away and people had this whole body of knowledge at the time of what social class you belong to based on how you presented yourself in public and it might be interesting also then to go out into the our own world out into the streets of London and think about the ways that we reach people based on what they wear and who they're with