Lingerie & Art: Bellocq

New section on the blog! Lingerie and Art, because I’m an Art Historian, after all! 😉

Here I’ll be posting artworks which showcase lingerie or loungewear garments, so in following posts we’ll see paintings by Tolousse Lautrec, Egon Schiele or François Boucher. But today we’ll start with the photographer Ernest James Bellocq (1873-1949). Why him? Because he‘s a less known artist and, as you will see, he was quite peculiar. (Also, I don’t like doing things in a chronological order. Or in any order at all xD).

Ernest J. Bellocq

A brief introduction: Bellocq came from a wealthy family of New Orleans, and he made a living taking pictures of landmarks, ships and machinery for some local companies. And what is so special about it? Nothing, really. The special thing comes now: in 1958 (9 years after Bellocq’s death) a gentleman named Larry Borenstein, who had an art gallery in NOLA, found several photos signed by Bellocq inside an old cabinet. He showed them in private to his friend Lee Friedlander, also a photographer himself. Friedlander was so impressed by the pictures that he acquired them and some years later he decided to publish a book about this particular aspect of Bellocq’s work. And now you wonder: what was in those pictures? Well, the quiet Bellocq, who never knew the fame when he was alive, was acclaimed after his death due to his portraits of the women who worked at Storyville brothels.

Storyville girls playing cards. Look at the printed cushions! E.J. Bellocq (ca. 1911-13)
Storyville woman wearing an emboridered kimono robe. E.J. Bellocq (ca. 1913)
Woman wearing a chemise, bloomers and a pair of really interesting stockings. E. J. Bellocq (ca. 1912)

Those were private photos, which he never showed to anyone, and in some of them the women’s faces are scratched (they think that Bellocq did it to protect the identity of some of the girls). Opposed to other photographers who depicted prostitutes, Bellocq’s portraits don’t seek the eroticism in such an explicit way. Despite some of his pictures feature naked women, Bellocq tried to capture them in their daily activities. It’s said that the photographer spent a lot of time in brothels, and that he lived for a while in one of them, so he had the chance to portrait the girls in moments of idleness and leisure. Through his pictures we can catch a glimpse of the women’s intimacy, see the environment around them and, of course, admire their clothes.

Woman looking at her locket, wearing a beautiful long robe. E.J. Bellocq (ca. 1915)
Drinking “Raleigh” Rye and wearing the most amazing striped stockings. E.J. Bellocq (ca. 1912)

PS: You can find more info about Bellocq here and here. I hope you liked the post!



  1. Hola Sofía.

    Llegué a tu blog por la lista de blogs que publicó Skarlett. Tengo que confesarte que me has atrapado desde la primer línea que he leído. Me parece sumamente interesante esta categoría de post, sobre todo por que está enfocado a la lencería. No sé si ya has visto este video, seguro que si, y si no, seguro que te encantará.
    Un beso!!

    [vimeo 38996498 w=500 h=281]

    1. Hola Sandra! Muchísimas gracias por tus palabras!! Me alegro de que te guste mi blog, y en especial la categoría de Lingerie & Art: son los posts que me llevan más tiempo, pero también los que más disfruto cuando los escribo.
      También me he estado dando un paseo por tu blog y me ha parecido interesantísimo. El post sobre el vestido Mondriaan me encanta, y tuve la suerte de verlo en directo el año pasado, cuando visité Ámsterdam!
      Por cierto, el vídeo es genial!! No puedo parar de verlo 😉
      Un beso!

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